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Women lay siege to Collectorate

Staff Reporter

They demand free gas stoves and colour television sets



FOR A FAIR DEAL: Collector S. S. Jawahar listening to the complaints of women from Nilayur and Koothiyarkundu in Madurai on Friday. — PHOTO: S. JAMES

MADURAI: Over 100 women from the villages of Nilayur and Koothiyarkundu laid a siege to the Collectorate here on Friday, demanding free liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stove to all ration cardholders of their villages.

The women who came to the Collectorate in two trucks at around 11.30 a.m. refused to move out of the premises without meeting the District Collector, S.S. Jawahar, in person.

With loads of complaints against the functioning of ration shop in their area, the women of Nilayur demanded that the salesman be shifted immediately. "The supply of rice and kerosene is very irregular," the women said in one voice. "The problem has been there for nearly five years," said A. Senthil, a councillor of the Nilayur panchayat.

Though rice and kerosene were not regularly supplied, the salesman made entries in all columns as if to show that everything was in order. The women showed many ration cards to the officials as evidence to their complaint. They alleged that rice was sold in black market. "When we ask for rice, the salesman asks us to buy a bag for Rs. 300," one of them said. "The Government has reduced the rice price only because poor like us cannot afford more than Rs. 2 a kg. But, he is asking us to shell out Rs. 300," she said.

Alleging foul play in selecting beneficiaries for free LPG stove distribution, the women demanded suspension of distribution scheduled on Saturday. "Either give free colour television sets and stoves to all or stop for all," S. Amirthavalli, a self-help group worker, said.

The Collector promised that the freebies were meant for all and would be distributed in phases. He directed the officials to inspect the villages to set right their problems. They left for home at 2.30 p.m. only.

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