Came for the near-free food grains, but got chaffed in return by the government.
Starting from October 1, the state government had promised 5kg of wheat and rice every month at subsidised rate of Re 1 a kg to around 2.33 crore people coming under the National Food Security Act. But the beneficiaries were turned back by the public distribution shops (PDS) on Thursday as they hadn’t got food grain stocks and the order to distribute.
“The dealers have no option but to return consumers empty hand,” said Fair Price Dealers Association vice president Suresh Prasad.
Of Jharkhand’s 3.29 crore population, more than 2.33 crore people are covered under the food security act passed by Parliament in September 2013 when the United Progressive Alliance was in power. The deadline for implementing the Act was extended thrice in Jharkhand, with the latest one in September.
The Act provides a legal entitlement to 5 kg of subsidised foodgrain—3 kg of wheat and 2kg of rice—per person every month. The Centre has promised to allot more than 1.30 lakh tonne of foodgrain to Jharkhand every month to implement the new law.
The Thursday’s snafu was created by slow-moving food and public distribution (FPD) department, which has to issue orders to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to release food grains.
“Government has informed us about the proposed food grain allocations. But, we are yet to get the release order,” said FCI deputy general manager (region) Jaydeep Kachhap.
He said they had sufficient stock of rice. “For wheat, we have released order, and will arrive here in 2-3 days,” he said.
The consumers will get ration from PDS shops through the new ration cards, as the old ration cards stand null and void after the food security act came into effect.
PDS dealers alleged that slow-paced distribution of ration cards was one of the major reasons for delay in distribution of food grains under the new law.
“Beneficiaries of are coming to us for grains. But, they are yet to get new ration card. Besides, the government also did not provide us the list of beneficiaries,” said a PDS dealer S Prasad of Ranchi’s ward 46.
In Ranchi, district administration had tasked ward councillors with distributing ration cards. But, a majority of ward councilors are yet to get the ration cards.
“How can we distribute ration cards until we get them,” said ward 10 councillor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya, who is also the Ranchi deputy mayor.
“People are making a beeline for my office for cards but I haven’t received a single ration card till date,” he said.
FPD secretary Vinay Kumar Choubey said, “Food grain distribution is not a one-day affair. We had said that beneficiaries would be eligible for food grains under the new act from October 1. The allocation was given for October month. We will distribute it this month.”