Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday (June 30) extended free ration scheme for poor till June 2021, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna till November-end. “I am extending free ration for poor till June 2021,” Mamata said in a statement.
Addressing the media at the state secretariat Nabanna on Tuesday, Banerjee said, “In Bengal, only 60 per cent people are getting central ration (under PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana).Today, they will give free foodgrains, tomorrow they will not give, why such discrimination? Hence, I have decided to provide free ration to poor people till June 2021 in West Bengal.”
She further said the prime minister should announce free foodgrains for all citizens. “I want our PM to give ration to all the 130 crore people of the country.” Earlier in the day, Modi said, “The PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will be extended till the end of November and free ration will be provided to the poor. The extension will cost more than Rs 90,000 crore.”
Regarding the PM’s assurances on the government working on ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme, Banerjee said, “Earlier, people used to get ration cards made of paper. Now, they get digital cards. I don’t know what exactly he meant by ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’. I cannot comment further on this without knowing details about the scheme.”
Asked about the border standoff with China, the West Bengal CM said the neighbouring country must be given a befitting reply and it is for the central government to take a call on the matter, adding that her party is with the Centre on the matter. “We stand by the country in this hour of crisis. We stand with our motherland. Any kind of attack on India is not acceptable to us,” she added.
The CM also spoke about reports of commuters facing a harrowing time to reach their respective offices or destinations in the state with about 6,000 private buses staying off the roads over fare issues. “I will not allow them to increase the fare. We have decided to give them a financial package of Rs 15,000 for three months so that they can resume the service from July 31 without increasing the fare.”
“Also, bus drivers and conductors will now be eligible for ‘Swasthya Sathi’ (health scheme of Rs 5 lakh). However, I have heard that they are not willing to accept our proposal. We have to find a solution to this. I will wait for tomorrow and after that we will take control of the private buses and will pay the salary of bus drivers and conductors. If they don’t ply tomorrow, we will acquire private buses, take action as per Disaster Management Act, a state government driver will take over,” she said.
“Today the Chief Secretary has written letters to Central Home Secretary regarding metro and flight services. Like international flights have been stopped till July 15, we requested restriction of domestic flights from hotspots and to start metro for people engaged in essential services,” she further said.
Regarding new relaxations that have come in force as part of easing of lockdown measures that are in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, Banerjee said, “We are allowing morning walks from 5:30am to 8:30am but social distancing should be maintained. We have also increased the number of guests to be allowed in weddings from 25 to 50 people.”