Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 29:
The Congress today announced to gherao all panchayat offices on December 11 in Odisha to highlight its protest against large-scale irregularities in distribution of PDS cards under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
“Priority households those who live in hunger have been excluded from the list, whereas rich families in connivance with government officials have managed to get ration cards. Police is registering cases against those who are raising their voice or are protesting against the irregularities. Congress today at its meeting of office bearers and district presidents has decided to gherao all gram panchayat offices in the state to protest against the large-scale irregularities committed in distribution of ration cards. Our party will demand for inclusion of all poor families in the list,” said Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan briefing reporters after the meeting of party office bearers at the Congress Bhawan here today.
On the other hand, while the ruling BJD had admitted to certain discrepancies in distribution of ration cards in the state, it has called Congress’s move to gherao gram panchayat offices as a political stunt aimed to draw attention of the people towards their party as the winter session of the Assembly will begin from December 11.
“Yes it’s true that there have been some discrepancies in distribution of ration cards at many places. This has happened mainly due to lack of understanding about the eligibility criteria for issue of ration cards by applicants as well as the government officers in some places. About 3.26 crore people will get ration cards in the state out of a total population of 4.21 crore which is about 70-75% of the population and this is no mean achievement. Distributing ration cards to about 75% of the population of a state is sure to have some administrative hurdles. The departmental minister, secretary and district collectors are trying their level best for its proper implementation,” said BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb in his reaction on Congress’s call to gherao gram panchayats.