Agartala: Amid the extension of the nationwide lockdown imposed as a precautionary measure from COVID-19, villagers from Ashwini Tripura Para under Santir Bazar sub-division in South Tripura district have allegedly mortgaged their rations cards to support their families.
Due to the lockdown, a number of daily workers lost their jobs and were forced to sit at home. With no money coming their way five families from Ashwini Tripura Para under Santir Bazar sub-division had to mortgage their ration cards to money lenders in return for a loan to sustain their families. Among them, Ramkumar Tripura has mortgaged their ration cards at Rs 8,000, Vidyamohan Tripura at Rs 15,000, Kanchadhan Tripura at Rs 15,000, Manoranjan Tripura at Rs 20,000 and Brajmohan Tripura at Rs 15,000.
Ramkumar Tripura said that his family members did not receive any support from the administration during this lockdown situation and following which he was forced to mortgage his ration card.
He also said that they visit the fair price shop just to give his fingerprint in the bio-metric but the ration is withdrawn by the person who has mortgaged the ration cards and later sold in the market.
A local ration dealer has been named by the locals of being involved in the racket along with some other agents. However, when questioned the accused refused to comment.
This is not the first time. Farmers in Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District council or the TTAADC have mortgaged their cards for a loan earlier when they are in need of funds.
Tripura has a total of 9.15 lakh public distribution system (PDS) consumers including 3.37 APL, 1.08 AAY and 4.7 PHH consumers, withdrawing their ration supplies from 1810 fair price shops spread across eight districts.
The government supplies six commodities through these shops including rice, wheat, sugar, lentil pulses, salt and tea. Supply of soybean and mustard oil was announced by the food minister but it is yet to start.
Speaking with EastMojo, Arghya Saha, Sub-divisional magistrate of Santirbazar said that as per their inquiry, the families had taken loan amount from some other individual of the locality.
“When we visited the households, we found the ration cards in the possession of the owners and they confessed to have taken loans and they are paying the loan in terms of a portion of their rice entitled to the families”, Saha said.
He also said that show-cause notices have been issued to all money lenders.
“They are all priority group households and this time they are receiving double ration from the government and out of that a portion of the ration is given away to the money lenders”, Saha added.