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புதன், ஜனவரி 12, 2011

Free ‘pongal' packages go scarce

CUDDALORE: 

           The free ‘pongal' package announced by the government for ration card-holders has gone scarce, and, so also the free dhotis and saris to be distributed through fair price shops in Cuddalore district.

         For instance, a salesperson at the Manjakuppam fair price shop here claims that for over 1,000 cards attached to the shop, he has received the supply for only 700 cards, and is not sure when the fresh supply would arrive.

        Another fair price shop at Venugopalapuram has denied card-holders free dhotis, which they have received for the past two years. Such complaints are widespread all over the district.

         Even the additional sheets to be attached to ration cards to extend their validity are in short supply and the fair price shops are awaiting official direction in this regard. District Supply Officer S. Kalyanam acknowledged the fact that the number of ‘pongal' packages fell short of the actual number of cards. There are 6,61,189 lakh cards in circulation in Cuddalore district.

Fake cards

            Earlier, during the cent per cent verification, thousands of bogus cards were eliminated. However, in course of time, 17,000 of them had come back into circulation and this could have resulted in the shortage. The package would be distributed to the card-holders in a couple of days, he said. As for non distribution of free dhotis and saris to the beneficiaries of last year, Mr. Kalyanam said that in all 6.38 lakh free dhotis and equal number of saris were supplied for free distribution. This was meant for those living below the povertyline or those having a monthly income of less than Rs. 2,000. Going by that criterion, allotment of dhotis and saris was more than sufficient and if there was any lapse, it should be at the fair price shop level, Mr. Kalyanam said.

            A special tahsildar, in charge of the public distribution system, said on condition of anonymity that there were variations in the “A” register maintained in fair price shops and the actual number of ration cards in circulation. An opinion had gained ground that there existed a nexus between salespersons and those possessing bogus cards to get priority over the supplies and only the remaining stock was being shared with the genuine card-holders. The salespersons were aware that genuine card-holders were meek to protest and hence, they exploited the situation. The demand for the additional sheets would be met soon.

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