Gorkhatimes

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Higher ration plea for hills

Posted by Ramesh Khati on June 17, 2009

Darjeeling, June 16: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has demanded 50kg of foodgrain for each family in the hills every month through the public distribution system.

The demand was placed before Sharad Pawar, Union agriculture, food and civil supplies minister, at Krishi Bhawan in Delhi today.

“The hills are non-producing areas. The weather conditions are also extreme. Since our people are largely dependent on tea and tourism where the average monthly earnings range between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000, we have demanded that the government distribute at least 50kg of food commodities to every family per month,” Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said over the phone.

Jaswant Singh, the Darjeeling MP, was also part of the Morcha delegation.

Sources said following the existing norm, a ration cardholder in the hills receives 800g of rice, 700g of atta (flour) and 250g of wheat every week. Minors are entitled to half of this quantity. This means that a five-member family in the hills currently receives about 35kg of food commodities through the PDS.

According to the Morcha, every family should be given 22.5kg of rice and atta each and an additional five kilograms of wheat per month. PDS distributors have also complained that at times the state government does not allot the entire quota for the hills.

The Morcha has also taken strong exception to the state government’s “erratic supplies”. “We told the minister that the state government is erratic in its supplies and we have demanded that the quantity of sugar also be doubled and ways must be worked out so that it is directly distributed by the Centre to the hills bypassing the state,” said Giri. At the moment, 10 lakh card holders from the hills get 100gm of sugar every week.

The Union minister has reportedly told the Morcha delegation that he will try to implement a pattern like in the Northeast where food quantity allotted is slightly higher than the rest of the country.

source: The Telegraph

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