Junglemahal women give cold shoulder to ration shop scheme

Four months ago, the state government had mooted a proposal to allow women self-help groups (SHGs) in Maoist-affected Junglemahal districts to run ration shops. The move was aimed at improving the condition of the women members of the SHGs. However, till now the proposal has received a cold response, and not a single SHG from Purulia and Bankura has shown interest in running a ration shop.

The Food and Supply Department had sent a proposal letter to Self Help Group and Self Employment Department in which it was decided that 65 ration shops will be opened in three Junglemahal districts Bankura, Midnapore and Purulia which will be operated by women SHGs. Accordingly, the district magistrates of these districts were asked to initiate discussions with the SHGs in their respective districts and convince them to run the ration shops. But despite repeated attempts, SHG members in Purulia and Bankura could not be convinced.

"The subsidy given to the SHGs has also been increased. and the Food and Supply Department had sent a reminder last month requesting SHG&SE Department to expedite the process of selection of the beneficiaries," an official said. "While the district magistrates of West Midnapore has submitted the list of the SHGs, no such list has been received from Bankura and Purulia DMs," a senior official of the Self Help Group and Self Employment Department official told The Indian Express.

Asked about the reason for non-submission of the lists, the official said the women members of the SHGs were not interested in running ration shops. "They feel they cannot run ration shops. The district officials are trying to convince them," the official said.

SHG & SE Minister Santiram Mahato, however, is hopeful that the SHG members will be finally convinced to take up the job. "We will give them space to run the ration shops," Mahato said.

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