Bihar: With slippers as markers, villagers wait to apply for ration cards
: Do not be surprised if you see slippers lined up in front of counters for ration cards in Bihar.
But as the mercury hovers around 35 degree Celsius, standing in serpentine queues under the scorching sun is taking a toll on villagers. Already, there are reports of a few women fainting after suffering heatstroke, necessitating hospitalisation in Purnia district, 300 kms east of Patna.
To brave the oppressive summer heat, villagers have now evolved an indigenous method of placing their slippers or bags while they waiting under the shade of trees for their turn. A young man, who takes turns, is given the responsibility to move the slippers as the queue moves at snail’s pace.
At Dhandaha sub-division in Purnia, the queues in front of right to public services (RTPS) counters, where applications for ration cards are accepted, are reminiscent of early demonetisation days last November.
The queues are seemingly never ending. Shanti Devi, who came from Majhua More to the Purnia sadar RTPS counter, claimed that she had made three futile attempts over the last three days.
“It is sheer harassment for the people, as the government has not made proper arrangement at these counters either at blocks or sub-division office,” she said.
Another woman, Shakuntala Devi, said there was no separate queue for women, making it all the more difficult for them.
Dhandaha sub-division officer, Pawan Kumar Mandal, conceded that there was a huge rush of ration card seekers, but defended the arrangement.
“We have increased the number of counters from one to two. We have put corrugated shades and deployed a team of doctors, magistrate and an ambulance at RTPS counter sites. The rush of people is more out of ignorance than anything else because it is an ongoing process.”
Secretary, food and consumer protection department, Pankaj Kumar told HT, “We are accepting applications for new ration cards, addition and deletion of names through 101 RTPS counters at sub-divisional headquarter level across the state. Considering the rush, we have now extended the facility to cover 533 RTPS counters at block level in the state.”