TURA, Nov 06: The SDO (Civil) of Dadenggre, West Garo Hills, Swapnil Tembe has ordered a magisterial inquiry into allegations of siphoning of PDS items meant for public distribution after a hearing of beneficiaries in the village of New Bhaitbari.
The public hearing came after a complaint submitted by the All Meghalaya Minority Students’ Union (AMMSU), who met the SDO at his office chamber with the complaint. More than 1000 beneficiaries attended the hearing which began at 11 am at the Kazi and Zaman College.
AMMSU had made allegations of massive corruption in distribution of PDS commodities meant for the poor in the plain belt of West Garo Hills (WGH) claiming that this had never been distributed despite the same being retrieved by the dealers themselves. The allegations had been made against dealers of Shidakandi, Bowabari, Kandargaon, Morasuti, Phershakandi, New Bhaitbari and Garodubi villages.
Interestingly none of the dealers or suppliers came to the meeting on Tuesday which saw the beneficiaries voice out their grievances against the denial of what is rightfully due to them. Allegations of threat, cheating, falsely signing in beneficiary cards were made against the dealers in the public forum.
The hearing saw almost all of those present come with their NFS cards which clearly showed that distribution of commodities were not only irregular but also in short quantity.
“I was told that if I complained my card would be cancelled. They took advantage of us being illiterate. My dealer even went to the extent of threatening me with my life,” said one of the beneficiaries during the meeting.
“Any time we approached our dealer he used to say that allotment was not given. In fact in various years we only got 4-5 months of rice and sugar. The rest they pocketed themselves,” added another beneficiary.
“They gave me rice and sugar only during the months that there was Eid. I got nothing else throughout the year,” another added.
The various beneficiaries sought the immediate cancellation of dealer licenses as well as arrest of those guilty of siphoning the PDS commodities.
The meeting almost turned ugly after one person tried to side with the dealers. The commotion however was brought down through the intervention of the NGO members.
After the dying down of the commotion, the SDO Civil, Swapnil Tembe, promised to initiate a magisterial inquiry into the entire allegation.
“We have been monitoring allotment withdrawal by the wholeseller. However to do so for all dealers in Dadenggre is impossible. In the case of such misappropriation, the complaint should be immediate. We will initiate action after the completion of the inquiry,” said the SDO.
The inquiry is set to look into where exactly the pilferage of PDS commodities took place and act on the people responsible.
The NGO responsible for the complaint AMMSU hoped the inquiry would bring out the guilty party (s).
“This is taking corruption to a whole new level where the poor are being deprived of their rights. We hope that the people responsible are caught and punished as per law. Whether it is the wholeseller who is responsible or the PDS dealer, we just want justice for the people,” said Nur Islam, the AMMSU president.