Villagers from Lumtrep Nongjngi were finally provided public distribution system (PDS) rice at the right price last week after alleged attempts by the local fair price shop to overcharge them.
A complaint was made earlier this year by Linda Nongkrem, a resident of the village in West Jaiñtia Hills, that the shopkeeper had arbitrarily increased the price of the subsidised rice from Rs 3 to Rs 4 per kilogramme. Lumtrep Nongjngi is a village of about 140 households in the Nartiang circle of West Jaiñtia Hills .
Acting on the complaint, the government removed the dealer, Pyniaiddame Pale, and a Supply Inspector distributed the rice directly to the villagers.
Nongkrem had written a letter in this regard on May 6 this year, saying that the price hike had been in place since February. Those who refused to pay the inflated rate were denied their ration. The dealer had even reportedly ignored an instruction from the Deputy Commissioner’s office in this matter.
Village headman Ebormi Pale, far from coming to the villager’s aid, sided with the shopkeeper. He too would take 1kg of rice out of every allocation, it is alleged, in order to help the dealer transport the rice to the village (despite this charge clearly being illegal). In an alleged case of revenge, the headman has reportedly refused to issue proper residential certificates to Nongkrem’s children, who need them for their school admissions, etc.
Although happy to get their rations, the aggrieved villagers were still a little upset to only receive their quota for October and not for the months that they had to go without. In addition, only the four families that had officially complained against the shopkeeper were given rations by the Supply Inspector. There has also been confusion sown among residents of Iangkar, who previously got their rations from Lumtrep as well; supplies meant for them were taken directly to Iangkar but the villagers were apparently not informed prior of this change.
Until a new dealer is appointed to replace Pale, the DC has given responsibility over the ration distribution for Lumtrep to one Heiporka Samati in Nongjngi A.