Amid the state-wide lockdown, hundreds of angry villagers gathered and staged protests in various districts of West Bengal on Friday (1 May) against irregularities in ration distribution.
Incidents were reported from Narayanpur area of Kakdwip, Birbhum's Labhpur and Murshidabad's Jalangi, where villagers came in hoards and alleged that the ration dealers were not giving essential food grains as per the allotment guidelines set by the state food department.
Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had promised to give 5 kg of ration to each cardholder free of cost.
"We have received complaints from various districts. Our food inspectors have examined the issues. We have taken action against as many as 283 ration dealers across Bengal for irregularities in the ration distribution system. In some cases, we have terminated their licences as well," West Bengal Food Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick said.
He said there are over 21,000 ration dealers across Bengal and about 9.96 crore people of the state are getting direct benefits of the public distribution system in the time of Covid-19 crisis.
"We are keeping a close eye on the situation. If any ration dealer is found guilty, we will take stringent against him. They will be charged with penalty, cancellation of licence and, if necessary, they might be arrested also," Mallick added.
West Bengal Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: "We had informed the Chief Minister about such ration distribution irregularities earlier, but that time she had denied the allegation. We told her that it was taking place in coordination with a section of local Trinamool Congress leaders in various districts. Now the state food department has started noticing it. It's better late than never."
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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