Pongal gift: ‘Ensure proper distribution’
VELLORE: The Vellore-based Tamilaga Sthaban Congress Committee president A Varadarajan in a letter to Chief Minister MK Stalin, Cooperatives Minister, Food Minister and other officials requested that a revenue official and police constable be posted in ration shops to ensure that cardholders get their Pongal gift properly, sources said.
He stated in the letter that many poor persons had pledged their ration cards with moneylenders due to which the cash portion of Rs 1,000 would be taken away as also the gifts, which would then be sold on the sly in the black market.
Explaining further, Varadarajan said, “usually the cards are pledged for around Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000. The collusion between the ration shop salesman and the money lenders results in the latter being informed by the former when the consumer who has pledged his card arrives to collect the gift. It enables the money lender to collect his due and the gifts as a bonus.”
The presence of officials would enable actual cardholders to receive the gifts he said and added, “this will also enable the weeding out of bogus cards which officials say amount to a sizeable number.”
“Any scandal in issue of gifts will get the state government a bad name,” Varadarajan said adding that official presence in fair price shops will also curtail salesmen from indulging in malpractices to help their black-market cronies.
Enquiries revealed that many cardholders in areas like Kagithapattarai and Makhan in Vellore town and in villages like Ariyur and Kuppam on the outskirts of the town had pledged their cards for urgent needs like completing the last rites of close relatives.