Governance

COVID-19 lockdown: 50 PDS shops sealed in Bihar for illegal trade

According to officials, more PDS shops will be sealed and action taken against shopkeepers in other districts as well  

 
By Mohd Imran Khan
Last Updated: Tuesday 07 April 2020
A ration shop in Delhi. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Bihar government ordered the sealing of more than 50 public distribution shops (PDS) for alleged rampant black marketing of food grains during ongoing lockdown imposed to contain the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread.

Authorities have also directed all district magistrates and superintendents of police to initiate legal and departmental action against the shop owners.

Thousands of poor yet to get free ration — over 10 days after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced that all ration card holders will be provided free food grains.

The Bihar government had imposed state lockdown on March 22, 2020. This meant that thousands of beneficiaries were left with no source of livelihood.

Taking note of reports of black marketing by PDS shops and delay in distribution of free ration, civil supplies department secretary Pankaj Kumar Pal ordered sealing of the 50 shops.

“Following the directive, 17 PDS shops were sealed in East Champaran district; 13 in Muzaffarpur; and six each in Darbhanga and West Champaran districts,” a department official said.

According to officials, more PDS shops will be sealed and action taken against shopkeepers in other districts as well.

All 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.

CM Kumar on March 23 had announced free distribution of foodgrains to all ration card holders.

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

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

According to some unofficials figures, more than 2 lakh migrant workers returned to Bihar after March 22.

Till April 7, 2020, Bihar recorded 32 COVID-19 positive cases and one death. The state has tested 3,037 samples so far. There are four COVID-19 test facilities in Bihar till date. More than 11,000 people have been kept under observation.

 

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