Hailakandi, April 17, 2020:
Assam Minister for Environment and Forest, Fisheries and Excise, Parimal Suklabaidya today directed Superintendent of Hailakandi Police, Pabindra Kumar Nath, to take stringent action against those involved in the theft and embezzlement of rice and other essentials meant for the poor.
During a meeting here, Suklabaidya said the unholy nexus of hoarders, black marketeers, unscrupulous traders and employees must be busted. The Minister asked the SP to find out the persons who have had procured the embezzled rice and other essential foodstuff from the open market to get to the bottom of the entire racket. "Those who are out to siphon off the essentials meant for the poor and that too during the lockdown period must not be spared," he quipped.
SP Nath informed the minister that the police is vigorously pursuing the matter into embezzlement of essential commodities and recovering of sizeable quantities from raids conducted leading to arrest of three persons.
It may be mentioned that the district administration unearthed a racket involving embezzlement of rice and other essentials by the Secretary of Mohonpur GPSS Ltd, Aftabuddin Laskar, in cahoots with some fair price shop dealers worth around Rs.40 lakh. 1,858 quintals of NFSA rice allotted to the Mohonpur GPSS Ltd for the month of March and lifted from the FCI godown on February 23 was not distributed thus depriving 33,315 beneficiaries.
The Minister, who is overall in-charge of the three districts of Barak Valley on COVID-19, asked the Deputy Commissioner to rope in officials from other departments and engaging teachers to monitor the flow of essentials and to report cases of any irregularities.
Reviewing the COVID-19 situation with the Deputy Commissioner, senior officials of the administration and the district heads of concerned departments, Minister Suklabaidya asked the administration to ensure uninterrupted flow of essential commodities and to keep a tab on the prices so that there is no abnormal hike.
In the same breath, he asked the SP to depute police personnel to keep a close watch on the prices of essentials and to obtain the necessary feedback from the people for initiating necessary action. "A strict vigil has to be maintained so that no unscrupulous elements can take advantage of the extended lockdown period at the expense of the poor people," he added.
Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli apprised the minister about the slew of steps taken to monitor the prices of essentials through respective Circle Officers, formation of flying squads in each circle and engaging Goan Panchayat secretaries to keep an eye on the unscrupulous elements.
The minister asked the officials of APDCL to ensure electricity supply and to be prepared to meet the vagaries of nature. Officials informed that 33 KV feeder of Hailakandi disrupted by storm last night has been restored while work is going on war footing to restore two other feeders.
Suklabaidya asked the Agriculture and Fisheries departments to procure vegetables and fish locally from the farmers. He said fish of different varieties locally available can last for four months and asked the department to streamline the process of selling them.
Officials of the concerned departments informed about the steps taken to procure the produce from local farmers and arranging door-to-door delivery through selected hawkers. Around 2,600 kgs of local fish have been delivered at homes since April 14 through 31 selected vendors.
District Development Commissioner, Vikram Dev Sarma apprised the minister about arrangements being made to ensure delivery of chicken, meat and milk to the doorstep of the people.
District Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Officer informed the minister about the need for cattle feed. The minister assured that he would help to get cattle feed procured from Silchar.
On being apprised by SP, Nath about difficulties faced by the administration for sending serious patients through the West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya for medical treatment in Guwahati, minister Suklabaidya assured that he would personally take up the matter with the State Chief Secretary and DGP for resolving the matter at the earliest.
The Deputy Commissioner apprised the minister about the steps taken for screening of persons coming from outside and putting them under home quarantine. Jalli said the swab results of all the family members of COVID-19 victim tested negative and they are under 14 days institutional quarantine as a preventive measure.
The meeting was attended, among others, by Additional Deputy Commissioner, EL Faihraem, Additional Deputy Commissioner, RK Dam, Joint Director, Health Services, Dr. RC Dwivedy and heads of concerned departments.
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