29 June 2012

Sit-In Marks Start To West Bengal Campaign For Food Right

About 400-500 women and 50-100 men from the Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity and the Shramajivi Mahila Samity spent three hours at the South 24 Parganas district headquarters in Alipur, Kolkata, on the June 27 at a dharna (sit-in) from 1 to 4 p.m. The dharna was organized as a second-day event in the month-long Tala Kholo Abhiyan of the Right to Food Campaign. Udyani and Palli Unnayan Samiti also joined the programme.

A 17-member delegation from over 15 blocks of the district met the District Controller of Food and Civil Supplies (DCF&CS). While raising general demands like distribution of food grains from over flowing godowns and enactment of a National Food Security Bill, the delegation also drew the attention of the DCF&S to problems peculiar to his district — the district level vigilance and monitoring committee has not met even once since its formation a year ago, while block and shop-level committees have not been formed or are non-functional.

Pathar Pratima applicants have been told they will receive cards after 6-7 months, contrary to the PDS Control Order that promises cards within a month of application. Tokens or receipts for ration card applications have not been given to 500 applicants in Kakdwip.Applicants in Namkhana block have been asked hefty bribes, while in other blocks the block and sub-divisional officials are refusing to give fresh ration cards. People are not getting the allotted amount of rations and allotment orders and other public information have not been displayed in the ration shops. 
The District Controller gave his word to conduct meetings around the said issues and send letters to all those concerned asking them to take the necessary steps immediately. He also asked the activists to suggest names of people in the APL and BPL category who could join the shop-level vigilance committee.  The activists left after agreeing with the District Controller that they wouldreturn in a week’s’ time to the Controller to evaluate results.

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