Ranchi, September 10: Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren on Thursday evening directed West Singhbhum district administration to ensure all social welfare schemes for villagers living in inaccessible terrain at iron-ore rich Saranda forest.
The chief minister took strong reaction to a report published in an international news service on Thursday about villagers in several panchayats of Saranda forest area having to walk for nearly 30 km braving harsh terrain and rough weather to get ration under National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The report highlighted how tribal villagers face problem in the forest area with PDS dealers facing internet issues and are refused food grains under PDS and are at times given two-three months ration at one time and even cheated by giving less amount of food grains as against the provision enshrined under the Food Security Act. The ordeals of the villagers to get four kilogram of rice per member of the family had shaken the chief minister.
The reporter had tagged chief minister in the official twitter handle on Thursday evening.
“An hour back, I mentioned the need for empathetic governance to address needs of the marginal communities during my address in the concluding session of the state assembly. Deputy Commissioner Chaibasa (West Singhbhum district) please ensure coverage of all social welfare schemes for the villagers mentioned in this report,” Hemant Soren tweeted tagging it to West Singhbhum deputy commissioner in the official twitter handle @DCChaibasa.
Incidentally, the chief minister in a 40-minute speech had lambasted the BJP-led Central government for step-motherly treatment for non-BJP ruled states like Jharkhand and highlighted about efforts of the state government for empathetic government especially for poor, tribals, Dalits and marginalised through various welfare schemes.
The deputy commissioner West Singhbhum, Ananya Mittal replied quickly through a tweet, “Respected Sir, As per the direction the villagers mentioned in the report will be linked with government welfare schemes and arrangement would be made for providing them rations nearest to their place of residence and a report would be communicated to your office,”
The report in the international news services mentioned how the mineral rich area despite presence of PSUs like Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and other iron ore giants has the inhabitants staring at difficulties.
Significantly, SAIL had during the launch of the new industrial and investment promotion policy in Delhi on August 30 had announced an investment of Rs 4000 Crore over 3 years for up-gradation of SAIL Gua Iron ore mines and setting up of pellet plant all in the Saranda forest area.
The report mentions about villages Cherbalor, Dharnadiri, Kadodih, Lohrabera, Balehatu, Chingridor, Sangadora near to Karampada areas.
Generally, there are certain provisions of the government regarding the distance at which the ration shop should be. In special circumstances, the state government can also change these rules.
Akash Ranjan, a social worker associated with the ‘Right to Food’ organisation, says in the report, “According to the Jharkhand PDS control order, there should be a ration shop for a population of about 1000. But at the same time it should also be ensured that any cardholder can get three kilometers. Don’t have to travel more than that.”
He says that the population of these tribal villages settled in Saranda area in West Singhbhum is also very less and the attention of the government department is also less on them.
He says, “Even after covering a distance of 15 km, it is not necessary that everyone should get ration. The biggest reason for this is that the internet speed keeps getting interrupted here. It is said that it all depends on the mood of the ration dealer.