This was one of the slogans that rent the air, as activists of the LRS Delhi Council, members of the local Samiti sat on a demonstration in front of Vikas Bhavan on 28th July.
The story behind this is that in Sanjay colony (South Delhi), about one and a half years ago about 80% of the colony dwellers had deposited their ration cards at the order of the Food and Supplies department. In its place they had been given a “slip”, which entitled them to the rations from the local ration shop. This had been in practice for about one and half years, and whenever the residents asked about the card they were told that it will be done.
End of June of however, the ration shop owner told them that the slips given to them will no longer entitle them to the rations and that they would get their new cards! This naturally angered the residents and they called for a local Samiti meeting. At this meeting it was decided that they would go and meet the Secretary Food and civil supplies. Over 35 women and youth went to Vikas Bhavan. They shouted slogans such as like “food security is our birthright!”, “Down with the Food Distribution Commission”. “Down with the Delhi Government”, Sheila Ke Raj mein, card milega kithne sal mein!
A few representatives were allowed in after slogan shouting to see the Secretary. The Secretary explained that the original cards were asked to be surrendered because the local politicians had had these cards made all over the city for their vote bank purposes. He told the Samiti representatives that 80,000 cards had been found invalid, and as a result 200 to 300 genuine card holders had also been got affected! He said that the process was on for issuing new cards. He called the residents’ group after 2 days saying that a list would be given to the circle officer. He felt that BPL families should benefit and he said an appeal could also be filed in the Sheikh Sarai office.
The Samiti members lost no time in making the appeal letter and in following up with the letter that was sent to the circle officer.
However when three Samiti officers’ went to the concerned office again a few days later, they were told that all officers’ had been sent to sell “cheaper Dal”! This is a gimmick of the Delhi government to sell lentils at locations other than the ration shops and Kendriya Bhandars! As one resident put it, one will have to spend almost 25-50Rs to get there only to find that the Dal had been sold out!
The Samiti members persisting with the struggle found out that the Deputy Commissioner had a list with 909 names on it and that all of them would get their card in another 15 days. Four out of the 35 who had agitated got their cards and the agitation continues.
Who is responsible for making the people run around for what is their due? As the Delhi representative of Lok Raj Sangathan, Birju Nayak said according to the policy of the Food Distribution council, a new card should be made available within a month of filling the form. The Council should be held accountable for the delay being caused in getting these cards. All that the government has done is to issue all kinds of coloured cards with no assurance of food at reasonable prices. The demand that every citizen should be provided food items at a reasonable price continues.