Agartala: The coronavirus pandemic has created a bizarre scenario in Tripura. The poor are not interested to buy ration or LPG cylinder allotted by the government under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yogona free of cost. Instead they are now running to acquire smartphones, even paying more than the MRP.
The reason for not availing the government scheme is not clear, but Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath can deserves thanks for the second one. He recently introduced e-class as schools in the State have remained closed for the last two months due to the lockdown. The Education department is organizing the classes with experienced teachers, recording these and telecasting through local cable TV channels. Many students are getting benefited but many are unable to avail the opportunity.
Cable TV has a good network in the State but many remote villages do not have the facility. Moreover, this facility of e-class is not available through the DTH route. It is here that the smartphone steps in as the only alternative for the children to learn sitting at home.
The problem starts as the rural vendors of smartphones don't have sufficient stock to meet the exigency and the phone dealers in Agartala claim that they are also running short of stock as there is no supply due to the lockdown. However, a local vendor of Shantir Bazar in South Tripura district rejected the dealers' claim and said it is available at a cost of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 over and above the MRP. The guardians are at the receiving end as they are compelled to meet the children's demand.
When this is the scenario in the smartphone market, it is totally opposite in case of rice, pulses and LPG cylinders, where there is hardly any takers despite being given free of cost. Immediately after the lockdown was imposed, the Central Government announced a special programme – "Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yogona". Under this programme, every household belonging to Antodoy and Priority categories is entitled to get five kg of rice per head and one kg of mashur dal per card free of cost in addition to their regular monthly allocation.
Similarly, households covered under the Ujjala Yojana will get one LPG cylinder free of cost per month.
Tthey are entitled to get these benefits for three months – April, May and June. The allocation for the month of April has already reached the ration shops two weeks back.
The people belonging to Antodoy or Priority categories are considered to be mostly poor and backward but, surprisingly, a good number of them have not come forward avail the benefits of the scheme. The Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, who is responsible for ensuring the supply, also is baffled by the current situation.
Tapan Kumar Das, Director of the department on Thursday issued two big advertisements in local newspapers and TV channels requesting the beneficiaries to lift their allocations.