Meghalaya public forum demands clarification on subsidized rice status

Many villagers do not want to buy rice from government as rice from the open market is far cheaper, the Ka Sur U Paidbah Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep said.

A public forum in Meghalaya - ‘Ka Sur U Paidbah Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep’ - has demanded clarification from the state government on the issue of 11,276 metric tons of subsidized rice.

Group chairman HS Shylla said the group wants clarification on this issue because many villages are not willing to buy the rice allotted from the government because the rice from the open market is far cheaper.

“We want to know where this rice has gone if most of the people have not bought this rice. If the government fails to give an answer we will take it as that it has been misused. We will also be forced to file an RTI as a last resort if the government fails to give any clarification on this matter,” he said on Sunday.

He said the group has visited many villages and found out that many villages have not taken this rice allotted by the government.

“We need a clear statement from the government on this rice allotted because if the rice which is to help the people in these trying times has been misused then the people will give have to give their verdict. If there are people who want to play with lives of the poor and misuse the most essential commodities like rice in these trying times then they don’t deserve to serve the people and their service should end,” he said.

The group has also strongly opposed the intention of the government to bring labours from outside the state amid the rise of Covid-19 cases at present in the country.

Stating that the government does not even have enough quarantine centres to accommodate all the people of the state who have returned from various parts of the country, he said, “The government is putting the interest of migrant labours as a priority but not of its own indigenous labours and farmers.”

“The farmers cannot harvest their vegetables because of the lockdown and most of their vegetables get spoilt in the fields and many are worried about how they will repay the loans they have taken, but our government is more worried about the migrant labourers in this situation,” he said.

He also said that the government has imposed various restrictions on commercial vehicles but has failed to look into the vehicles provided for the government employees where no social distancing is being maintained.

Stating that Covid-19 has forced all the migrants to return to their home towns, he said, “The government should take this opportunity and ensure that anyone returning to Meghalaya in future should not come without valid documents and if the government is not prepared with this it has no right to bring even one labourer from outside into the State.” 

Shylla also said that Inner Line Permit (ILP) is the only solution to remove the indigenous people's fear of being outnumbered.

First Published:June 2, 2020, 1:15 p.m.