Narayangarh (West Bengal): Stressing that the Centre’s decision to reduce West Bengal’s kerosene allocation would cause “grave distress” to the poor and weaker sections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retain the state’s quota at the previous level.
“This decision will cause grave distress to the consumers in remote and tribal areas and adversely affect the poor, SC, ST, minorities and economically weaker sections of the society,” Banerjee said in a letter to Modi.
“I would therefore request you to kindly reconsider the decision and permit allocation of kerosene oil to the state at the level, as it existed in March, 2016,” she said.
The Chief Minister pointed out that her government has taken strong steps and already cancelled about 1.41 crore bogus ration cards to ensure the benefits of the Public Distribution System reached only the genuine beneficiaries.
“Survey and monitoring is an ongoing and continuous process and the state is committed to ensure that only the targeted beneficiaries obtain subsidies,” the missive said.
In such a backdrop, it would not be “appropriate to reduce allocation of kerosene oil, which is so much essential for basic needs like lighting the household and cooking by the poor people.”
She said the education of children from the poor families would also be adversely hit because of the reduction in the quota.
Sources said the centre has slashed the monthly allocation of kerosene oil to the state by 4,000 kilo litres — from 78,600 kilo litres to 74,608 kilo litres since April.
Later, addressing a rally here in West Midnapore district, Banerjee said despite the cut in the quota, the state government has ensured that the central decision did not affect the people. However, she regretted that the state was not in a position to give succour to the people any longer.
“I know people will suffer. Over the past two months whatever stock we had we had given to the people. But now they are not giving us the earlier quantity of kerosene. Whatever they are giving, we can only give that to the people.
“I have tried a lot since the morning to buy kerosene from the market. But I’m unable because Indian Oil and other such companies are under the central government. I don’t have the logistics.”
Banerjee had earlier written to Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on the same issue.