COVID-19: Bihar govt cancels licences of 36 PDS shops

Lodges FIRs against 144 shop dealers over alleged irregularities in food grain distribution and black marketing 

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Wednesday 22 April 2020
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Bihar government cancelled licences of 36 public distribution system (PDS) outlets, suspended dealership of 127 such shops and lodged FIRs against 144 shop dealers.

The action came in the wake of alleged irregularities in food grain distribution and black marketing by PDS shops during lockdown enforced to curb the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

“At least 267 PDS shops were involved in irregularities in food grains distribution during lockdown. FIRs were lodged against 144 of them. At least 45 shops were served show-cause notice to explain charges against them,” Food and Consumer Protection department secretary Pankaj Kumar Pal told DTE.

Pal added that district officials concerned have been asked to keep a close watch on the functioning of PDS shops and ensure that people get food grains on time according to the guideline issued by the state government.

The department received several complaints about PDS dealers distributing poor quality food grains or giving less than the quantity fixed by the government as free ration, said an official.

Following this, raids were conducted in several such shops.

“I have directed district magistrates and my department’s district officials to probe all complaints against PDS shops and take necessary action,” Food and Consumer Protection Minister Madan Sahni said.

He admitted that thousands of poor people didn't receive free food grains due to delayed distribution\.
The Bihar government had imposed lockdown on March 22, 2020.

According to the state government scheme, ration card holders will be provided free food grains, including five kilogram rice and one kg pulses for the next three months in view of the lockdown.

There are about 1.68 crore ration card holders in Bihar. A majority of them are yet to receive what was promised.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a nationwide lockdown on March 24, nearly 1.8 lakh migrant workers returned to Bihar from other states.

Till April 22, at least 131 people had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus in Bihar and two people had died. The state has tested more than 10,500 samples so far.

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