Hundreds of ration cardholders of the Public Distribution System (PDS) shop of Karpagam Cooperative Society at Salavanpettai in Vellore on Monday laid a siege to the shop alleging that the staff of the shop had illegally procured cement bags at subsidised rate, using their cards, from the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation’s godown here.
Sources in the District Supply and Consumer Protection office and Karpagam Cooperative Society said the PDS shop at Salavanpettai had 600 cards. The department had deployed a saleswoman, Puspha Latha, to disburse the ration items to the cardholders.
“The government has been distributing a maximum of 50 bags, each having 50 kilograms of cement, at subsided a rate of `230 to `250. It is `50 to `60 lesser than the market price,” a Block Development Officer said.
The cardholders claimed that Gaja, who was helping the saleswoman in the shop, had collected the ration cards from the customers stating that the officials had instructed to verify the procurement of goods and stocks in the shop. He had been doing this for the past two to three months.
Believing Gaja, several cardholders submitted the cards to him. After a few days, he returned the cards to the respective consumers. Several cardholders were shocked to see a seal of the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Department in their ration card. It was also mentioned that 50 bags of cement had been procured from the department godown at subsidised rate.
They also alleged that Gaja had procured more than 5,000 bags by misusing around 100 ration cards. The employees in the Civil Supplies godown might have helped Gaja, who was selling the bags illegally in the black market, the villagers alleged.The cardholders submitted a petition against Gaja at the Vellore South Police Station on Sunday night. However, the police refused to take the complaint and directed them to approach the District Supply Office.
On Monday morning, the card holders gathered in large numbers in front of the PDS shop and protested. Taluk Supply Officer (TSO) of Vellore K Vimala and officials from Karpagam Cooperative Society conducted an inquiry with the consumers and assured them to take appropriate measures against the persons who had misused the ration cards.
Sources said that TSO had submitted a report to the District Supply Officer T Jayaseela and Collector P Sankar regarding the malpractice. The senior officials would probe the case further and take appropriate steps.