November 27, 2009: Where does the rice earmarked for the poor people of the state go? Why it is not available in the PDS shops? Why it is sold in a price higher than the actual price? What kind of people are they who take away the rice from the poor and purchase car, construct their houses in expensive cities, live a luxurious life and build disproportionate wealth?
Women elected representatives of Kathalguri Block of Golaghat District were extremely unhappy with the present food security situation and the way it is being handled by the authorities.
In a meeting organized by the Kathalguri Block Elected Women Representatives Forum (BEWRF), facilitated by the North East Social Trust (NEST) in Dhekial Gaon Panchayat Office, 190 odd women leaders including Panchayat representatives, SHG leaders and Mahila Samiti members came together to explore possibilities of strengthening the Food Security scenario in the area.
Mr. Badan Nath, President of Dakhin Gurjugonia Cooperative Society was present there as a resource person to explain the procedure involved on obtaining of ration cards, functional details of the food security schemes like Antodaya, Annapurna etc.
Regarding the price of the Antodaya rice, Mr. Nath agrees that all the PDS shops are selling rice in a higher rate than the actual price as the government does not provide any transportation cost for the food grains and that access expenses are recovered through charging high to the beneficiaries. Participants’ question on how other states could provide PDS rice at the actual price but Assam can’t, he could not give any justification on that.
Ms. Kamalakshi Saikia, Secretary of the BEWRF also expressed her anguish on the process of IAY implementation in their block. The local JE is forcefully taking the contract of constructing the IAY houses from the beneficiaries and misappropriating the funds. The participants are on agreement that the IAY are benefitting the BDOs and JEs more than the beneficiaries. The members of 13 GPs of that block felt that the implementation of IAY schemes should be stopped immediately in their Panchayat which do not benefit the poor.
In this meeting participants realized for the first time that after getting the job card, a beneficiary need to apply for job. Here the system was such, that when there is NREGA work, the job card holders are asked to come for work. The president of the meeting Ms Hiranya Bora suggested all the members to collectively apply for the job soon.
Ms. Dipannita Duwara, urged all the women to come forward and strengthen the local governance. Ms. Rekhamoni Hazarika in her speech gave a brief introduction of NEST and The Hunger Project.