Gurez, Nov 21: The residents of Gurez Valley in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district are unhappy with the five kilograms of government rice provided free of cost by the government via ration depots. They say that the amount is not sufficient for their needs.
They cite Gurez’s topography, which is unable to grow paddy, as the reason for their dependence on government or private ration, especially rice.
Given the transportation charges levied by the private business owners, most of the Gurezis are not able to afford it, locals explain.
Abdul Raheem Lone, a sarpanch in Dawar and head of the PRI association in Gurez, said that the scheme was not beneficial and that the TSOs were refusing to give extra ration despite clear provisions by the government.
Lone said the people who are below the poverty line, which is the majority percentage of Gurez Valley residents, particularly those living in the villages of Tulail and Bagtore, were suffering the most.
“The scheme does not make sense as a family of more than five members receives five kilograms of rice per person and if a family consists of two to five people they get 10 kilograms each,” Lone said.
He added that it was unfair for the larger families, as is the case for most of the villagers living with larger families.
Lone said that the people having above-poverty line category ration cards were being denied ration and the issues were further compounded for those employees posted from outside the valley who had to make special arrangements for themselves to get rice.
The locals said the TSOs were not following government guidelines and were denying extra ration for reasons best known to the local authorities.
However, while talking to local TSOs, they denied the claims and said that they were duly following government provision in providing ration to all except those serving on government-gazetted posts.
Ghulam Ahmad Lone, TSO in Tulail Gurez, explained that people with PHH (Priority Household) category or (below poverty line) ration cards are provided five kilograms of rice for six or more members of the family.
However, smaller families in this category, from two to five members, were given 10 kilograms per person at the rate of 25 per kg per head for extra rice, the provision not applicable to families of more than six.
Likewise, those in the APL or NPHH category were being provided 5 kg per head at the rate of 15 rupees. Those in the AAY category are given 35 kg per ration card, and there is no extra provision of ration for them. However, they are given 1 kg of sugar at a rate of 13.50 rupees.
He denied the claim that rice ration was not being provided to APL categories but admitted that those on gazetted posts were not being entertained as per the government norm.
Lone, however, said that there were people who now and then claimed it was not sufficient.
He said the earlier combined schemes before 2022, with a mixed chargeable and free quota for each sole under the below-poverty category, would receive 15 to 20 kilograms of rice which has been more than halved “hence, the crisis.”
The locals said if there were special provisions for ration for places like Gurez, they would heave a sigh of relief.