Covid-19 lockdown: Bengal Governor alleges PDS scam, seeks urgent report from Mamata govt

Mamata has acknowledged deficiencies in the PDS but claimed it was limited to 10%
Bengal Governor and BJP leaders from the state have accused Mamata Government of a scam in the public distribution system.(REUTERS Photo/File/Representative)
Bengal Governor and BJP leaders from the state have accused Mamata Government of a scam in the public distribution system.(REUTERS Photo/File/Representative)
Updated on Apr 18, 2020 09:47 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | ByHT Correspondent

Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has alleged there was a scam in the public distribution system (PDS) in the state, which was getting bigger by the day when the state needed to put up a united fight against coronavirus. He added that he had sought urgent details from the chief secretary’s office on the matter.

“Covid 19 has to be unitedly fought on ground and not in media/public relations. No politics at all. Worried-PDS SCAM getting bigger by the day. PDS system is in virtual political hijack-a crime. Free ration for needy and not coffers. Defaulters be sternly dealt,” one of Dhankar’s many tweets on the issue said.

Dhankar’s allegation is supported by BJP leaders, two of whom-- Darjeeling MP Raju Singh Bista and Alipurduars MP John Barla-- have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming there was a scam in the PDS in Bengal. Bista has also spoken to Governor Dhankhar in this regard.

Dhankhar’s tweet came two days after chief minister Mamata Banerjee acknowledged deficiencies in delivering ration to the needy and removed the state food and supplies secretary.

“There is a problem with ration distribution, (it) is only about 10% of cases. We have to look into it and solve the problem,” she had said on Thursday.

The state government has promised free ration to 7.5 crore people for six months. The state’s population is 9.13 crore, according to the census of 2011.

Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded the resignation of the state’s food and supplies minister Jyoti Priya Mallick.

“What’s the gain in making the secretary a scapegoat? It’s the minister who needs to be removed if he does not resign on his own,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said on Saturday.

In another tweet, Dhankar said the PDS “SCAM BALOON” was getting bigger by the day and it involved “powerful ones”. He demanded a thorough probe to unearth “the sharks that hijacked PDS and denied poor and needy their due”.

Mallick, however, refused to comment, saying that the chief minister had asked every leader and worker of the party to refrain from trading political barbs during the time of a crisis.

In another tweet, Dhankhar wrote, “Concerned as regards illegalities and irregularities in making available benefit of free food grains to the poor and needy under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojna, have sought urgent details through my office in this behalf from the State Chief Secretary @MamataOfficial”.

Incidentally, the central scheme Dhankhar referred to has not been implemented in Bengal as the state has its own scheme.

In Kolkata, senior Left leaders, including Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo members Biman Bose and Md Salim and Left leader in the Assembly Sujan Chakraborty were arrested while staging a demonstration against the alleged ration scam. The leaders maintained social distancing during the demonstration.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021