Maha govt going easy on grain black marketeers, claim activists

GR issued following several complaints of blank ration cards being sold in Pune district holds officers responsible, but omits any mention of punishment

The state government’s alleged toothless Government Resolution (GR) on the misuse of blank ration cards has activists up in arms.

Minister of Food and Supply Anil Deshmukh (right
Minister of Food and Supply Anil Deshmukh (right) seemed vague on the matter and said that the punishment will be decided based on the gravity of the offence. File Pic

Following frequent complaints being received from citizens and NGOs about increasing incidents of blank ration cards being illegally sold in Pune district for the black marketing of food grain and even for bogus voting before the Lok Sabha elections, the state government issued a GR on Tuesday to curb the menace.

While the GR holds the concerned officer and staff, under whose watch the blank rations cards are being sold, responsible, it bafflingly omits any mention of punishment, prompting activists to term it an eyewash.

“Does the duty of the state government stop at holding the concerned officers responsible for the black marketing of food grain? What about punishment?” asked Sajag Nagrik Manch’s Vivek Velankar, who has been following the issue of ration card misuse since the past few months. Velankar had also written to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan recently to get the right of receiving information on missing ration cards from the various fair price shops of Pune district.

“This is nothing but an eyewash by the state government, keeping an eye on the upcoming assembly elections in the state,” he added.

The Legal Rights Society’s Anoop Awasthi told mid-day that after hearing about the GR, he has decided to send a letter to CM Chavan, requesting him to also add the provision of law under which the responsible officers would be punished.

“There is provision of punishment under Section 165 (1) of IPC, however, it seems that while making a draft of the GR, the administrators have forgotten to mention anything about punishment,” said Awasthi.

Speaking to mid-day, Minister of Food and Supply Anil Deshmukh was vague on the matter. “The punishment will be given according to the gravity of the offence committed by the concerned officer,” said Deshmukh.

When he was pressed on the issue and asked why there was not even a mention of punishment in the GR, Deshmukh said, “We have separate guidelines which will help us decide whether the concerned officer will be suspended or given a show-cause notice, depending upon the extent of his involvement.”

Bogus voting

Before the Lok Sabha elections, cases had come to light of blank ration cards being sold to enable bogus voting. This prompted opposition parties in the state council (Vidhan Parishad) to take cognisance of the issue and raise a starred question on the matter. This was one of the things that compelled the government to issue the GR.

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