05 October 2012

Subsidy on pulses revived, computerisation of ration cards approved by Cabinet as Right to Food and Work Campaign gathers steam

Press Release
5 October 2012

As the Nationwide Campaign on Right to Food and Work is underway with new states like Gujarat joining in, important decisions were announced in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet has approved computerisation in PDS to address the issue of bogus and false ration cards. Further, it has decided to once again introduce pulses under PDS, and approved a subsidy of Rs.20 per kg on imported pulses for BPL households. This seems to be a sop to pacify opposition to its FDI related "reforms".

West Bengal state yatra continued with BDO deputation at the Patharpratima block in South 24 Parganas district lasted more than 3 hours with campaigners from Gosaba Anwesha for Science, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), Shramajivee Mahila Samity (SMS), New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Sundarban Bonadihikar Sangram Committee and Udayani Social Action Forum. Workers working under MGNREGA are faced with a crisis in this block as wages amounting to Rs 7 crore are due for work done in this financial year. As per the BDO, this figure stands only at Rs.3 crore. One of the major problems has been that majority of workers have been given work under several schemes of NREGS without any proof, such as collection of 4a forms and giving in return 4b forms. According to the BDO, the discrepancy in the due wages is because of the panchayat not reporting the work done as yet. No assurances were given by the BDO as to when the payments could be made, he appeared helpless and said the district bank account for NREGS has only about a crore left in its account. It was also bought to his notice that about 52lakhs is lying with the Post office, and no steps being taken for disbursement. One of the only positive developments was that he ensured the yatris that 21,000 ration cards will be issued in the block within the next 2 months.

10 Gram Panchayats in Kalna 1, Burdwan district were covered by the vehicle rally by Udayani. Women participated and showed immense interest as they welcomed the yatris with garlands and actively took part in the public meetings.

A deputation of PBKMS, SMS and NTUI activists met with the District Magistrate's representative in Nadia district as the DM was not present. When issues of pension to old persons and widows were raised, he asked us to submit a list of names from every panchayat and block, who are not included despite being in the BPL list. Similarly on NREGS complaints of work not provided, he asked for lists with attached 4a forms.

Deputations with BDOs of Khatra and Indpur block in Bankura district were held today as part of the yatra organised by Rural Development Society, PBKMS, SMS, NTUI and Udayani Social Action Forum. Issues of delay in payment of old age pension and irregular meetings of the PDS vigilance committees were a point of discussion, with BDOs assuring that they would try and disburse the money before the pujas. On implementation of Forest Rights Act, Khatra BDO said that 500 pattas have been distributed in the block.

For more details, please contact                                 
Saradindu Biswas (Ph: 9433342488)         

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