Mamata announces free ration in Bengal till June '21
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced that her government will provide free ration to Khadya Sathi beneficiaries till June next year.
The state government is also considering a proposal to extend the facility to the remaining population that will be announced later following further discussion.
The Chief Minister also urged the Centre to ensure distribution of free ration to the entire 130 crore people of the country instead of giving it to only 60 percent of them. She also requested to provide the same for all 10 crore people in Bengal without any discrimination as the Centre at present allots free-of-cost ration to only 6.01 crore of the state's populace.
When asked about her reaction over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement on extending the distribution of free-of-cost ration till November, Banerjee said: "They have announced it till November. I am extending it till June 2021, so that the people of Bengal do not face any problem in getting food during this critical time. Beneficiaries of the Khadya Sathi scheme will be getting free-of-cost ration till June 2021 and we will consider whether the same can be given to the entire 10 crore people after September."
"We had earlier announced the distribution of distributing free ration till September that started from April. In the initial three months, only 5 kg rice to each was distributed and in subsequent three months, people will be getting 5 kg rice and atta," Banerjee maintained adding that the rice that the Centre provides through Food Corporation of India is not of good quality as compared to that of the state which is directly procured from the farmers.
At present, the Centre extends support to give free-of-cost ration to 6.01 crore cardholders in Bengal under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), Priority Households (PHH) and State Priority Ration Cards (SPHH) while the state government provides the same to 3.97 crore beneficiaries under the Rajya Khadya Suraksha Yojana (RKSY) I and II. The state is also providing ration to people at this critical time of COVID-19 by issuing three different types of coupons. Ration against coupons is given to migrant workers, people who applied for ration cards and another section that has not even applied for the same but is in need of foodgrains.
With 5,761 people at present suffering from COVID-19 in Bengal and the state witnessing a steep rise in the number, Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha wrote to the Secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation PS Kharola requesting not to schedule any flights to Bengal from high prevalence places including Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chennai, Indore, Ahmedabad and Surat for two weeks from July 6. It has also been requested to restrict the number of flights to once a week for each airline to Kolkata, Bagdogra and Andal from other cities in this period of time.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has also announced further relaxations when the lockdown in Bengal has been extended till July 31 by allowing people to take morning walks from 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. But gatherings need to be avoided and precautionary measures need to be taken, like masks and gloves.
The state government is also allowing the gathering of 50 people following physical distancing in marriages and shradhs.
Following repeated requests from Bangladesh, approval has been given to start operations at Changrabandha land port in Cooch Behar from Wednesday after it remained shut since the nationwide lockdown was announced.