Tripura Chief Minister reviews rice scarcity issue

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Agartala, Dec 15 (UNI) Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar today reviewed the rice scarcity issue with senior state officials and assured the people that the state government would take steps to resolve the crisis.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Sarkar said the Director of Food and Civil Supplies would meet Food Corporation of India (FCI) officials at Bongaigoan in Assam on December 17 to restore the rice supplies.

''The Union Food Ministry has reduced the rice quota for Above Poverty Line (APL) families from 35 Kg to 20 Kg per month. At the same time, the transportation system has been hit hard with the disruption of the railway bridge at Malidarah,'' Mr Sarkar said.

Both Tripura and Mizoram had been facing the problem since July, as rice wagons could reach only up to Bongaigoan from Andra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, the Chief Minister added.

He stated that following severe rice scarcity in both the Public Distribution Systems (PDS) and the open market, the Tripura MPs had met FCI Executive Director R Garg and Railway Board (RB) Chairman K C Jena yesterday.

All three CPI(M) MPs from Tripura had accused FCI authorities for inadequate supplies in the state and alleged that the rice quota had been gradually reduced by the corporation.

''We demand that immediate steps should be taken to restore the rice supply to Tripura and the FCI has agreed to the requirements, but made the point that the supply was affected due to non-availability of railway wagons,'' MP Khagen Das said.

Mr Das stated that they had called on Mr Jena and he had assured to take steps to restore railway transport on urgent basis, while explaining that owing to the metre gauge tracks, loaded wagons could not proceed from Lumbding, which disrupted the supply to Tripura, Mizoram and southern Assam.

''Both the FCI and RB authorities have assured us that they will look into the matter on urgent basis,'' Mr Das said, adding that Tripura had received about 50,000 tonnes rice in the past three months, which was about 16.82 tonnes less than the total allocation.

Meanwhile, both the ruling CPI(M) and Opposition Congress in the state had launched agitations to protest the rice scarcity from yesterday and as part of the programme, the three MPs met FCI and RB officials.

The CPI(M) government in the state had accused the Centre, while the Congress blamed the Left Front, alleging that corruption and poor governance by the ruling CPI(M) were responsible for the crisis.

The Congress also announced to organise a hunger rally in North Tripura on December 16.

Meanwhile, the Left Front launched week long public demonstrations across the state to protest the alleged inadequate rice supply and accused the Centre of reducing Tripura's rice quota during the past five months.

UNI

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