Rotten Rice In Ration Shops: Blame Game Begins

Rotten rice at a ration shop in KarimpurRotten rice at a ration shop in Karimpur

Krishnanagar, Feb. 28: The Nadia district administration has asked the ration dealers in the district to “check” quality of rice and food grains while receiving the same from the distributors. The district administration, embarrassed with large number of complaints for distribution rotten rice, has also asked the dealers not to sale rotten rice at their shops under any circumstances.

While the state administration warned the ration distributors and dealers of stern action if found selling rotten rice and even blamed them for replacing good rice with rotten ones, they have raised question about the feasibility of its advice for checking each of the sealed bags and also advised that the food department should ensure that no rotten rice is released to them for sale.

The administration has so far suspended five dealers and two distributors, mostly in Tehatta sub division and show caused 38 dealers for selling rotten rice after on the basis of public complaints.

The state food minister Jyotipriya Mullick alleged that a section of distributor replaced the rice with “rotten” ones before releasing to dealers’ points.

 “The rice that was supplied to the ration shops in Nadia’s Karimpur and Palashipara were not procured from Food department godowns. It was procured from elsewhere. We have therefore suspended them and police to find out its source”.

Officials Nadia unit of West Bengal MR Dealers’ Association said: “The dealers and distributors are being made scapegoats. There is no scope for us to replace sealed packs with rotten ones”.

A distributor alleged that corrupted food inspectors should be blamed for the recurring quality problem.

“In September last year when a consignment was identified having rotten rice in Pipulberia near Karimpur, the food inspector got its sample tested and later certified it for sale, but eventually the locals refused to buy it. We appraised food department officials but, they ignored our plea”, said a distributor on anonymity. “The food department should develop its machinery so that no rotten rice is shipped to the distributors. Because it is not possible for them to check”, the distributor added.

On Saturday Nadia district magistrate Sumit Gupta held meetings with ration distributors and dealers in Krishnanagar, when he asked them to be “accountable” enough and to ensure “quality”.

Nadia at present has 36 ration distributors and 1286 dealers. The distributors procure rice from the state government owned stores, which they later deliver to the dealers’ points.

“We will not allow sale of rotten rice. The dealers and distributors should check the quality of rice as far as possible when they receive. They would get an idea of the quality inside bag once check few bags. Our objective is to create an alertness so that they report about rotten rice instantly and stop its sale”, DM Sumit Gupta said.

But, dealers and distributors termed it as an absurd proposition. They said that the state government should rather check quality before releasing rice to the distributors.

A distributor on anonymity said: “It is just not possible for a distributor to check each of about 2000 bags of rice he received for distribution to dealers. The state government actually trying to wash off his hand by blaming us, whereas they should streamline its infrastructure and make its official accountable to ensure quality before release of rice to us”.