People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 43

October 28, 2007

Bengal LF Govt Announces Package

To Further Augment The Ration System


B Prasant


EVEN as popular resistance and timely intervention by the state administration foiled further attempts made to disrupt the rationing arrangements of essential commodities, the Bengal Left Front government announced a series of measures to further strengthen and widen the public distribution system.


A very important measure in the package announced is the inclusive and participatory role of the Panchayats, municipalities, and the general administration. The food and supplies department continues to remain the nodal agency of the rationing arrangements.


The district-level committees shall include also the sabhadhipatis of zilla parishads, the district magistrates, and representatives of the food and supplies department. The three-tier Panchayat system in the rural areas and the municipalities and municipal corporations in the urban stretches shall play a vital role in a more organised facilitation of the public distribution system.


The step is inclusive of a strong monitoring drive to ensure that no attempts would be made to either sabotage or attack the system of public distribution of commodities of common consumption through a widening network of fair price shops in existence throughout the state, itself a unique feature of the state LF administration, and a rarity in the country.




As a step towards providing enough man-power to fuel the system in operation, two thousand people will be employed, adding to the human resources strength that exists in considerable measure. The employment will be done through the public service commission. The sanctioned strength in this regard in total is 20,400 employees of different cadres. To make the food inspectors more mobile, enough vehicles will be made available. To start with there would be a vehicle per block in the least.


The district-level committees will sit every fortnight as part of the decentralised administration set up already alive and functioning down to the block level. The committees would look into the grievances, if any, of the consumers and the food and supply department would be kept informed for appropriate action. The state LF government will sit in a meeting soon with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for ensuring continuous and adequate availability of supplies of essential commodities.




A series of assaults and of looting of shops courtesy of Pradesh Congress, Trinamul Congress, Maoists, and SUCI goons had left the fair price shop owners and ration dealers terribly frustrated. They chose to tender mass resignation on October 22.


Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee later persuaded them not to go in for a move that would hurt the mass of the people the most — something that will also end up playing to the tune of the Bengal opposition, which aims at creating a chaos in the public distribution system.


A press statement of the Congress indeed would even go to the point of calling the present attacks on the rationing system ‘food riots,’ a statement the Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) has since effectively rebutted and nailed. After discussions with the chief minister, both the fair price shop owners’ associations chose to call of the strike. Buddhadeb has assured them of security and protection against attacks.


The leadership of the ration shop owners’ associations later met the media at the Writers’ Buildings and announced their satisfaction at the discussion the chief minister had had with them.