Kolkata, Oct 16: On the occasion of World Food Day, the West Bengal government has decided to provide free food grain to members of Toto community, one of country’s oldest tribes, a state minister said Tuesday.
“All the 357 families of Totos having 1,391 members will be provided 8 kg of food grains every month from Nov 15 onwards,” Food Minister Jyotipriya Mullick said.
The Toto is a primitive and isolated tribal group residing only in a small enclave called Totopara in Jalpaiguri district. Totopara is located at the foot of the Himalayas just to the south of the borderline between Bhutan and West Bengal
“I visited the Totapara and was appalled to see their condition. Since the community does not come out of the Totopara to avail the benefits of the public distribution section, the government has decided to distributed food grains in their locality,” said Mallick.
The state government is also considering extending this scheme of free food grains to other tribal communities as well such as Bihor, Sabar and Lodhas after assessing the financial implication, he said.
Mullick also visited the certain tea gardens in the district during the day, where certain NGOs have alleged cases of starvation over the past several months.
“I visited Kumlai and Dheklapara tea gardens in the district. The people had certain grievances that subsidised food grains through the public distribution system are not being properly distributed there,” he said.
A network of NGOs and trade unions has alleged that as many as 13 starvations deaths have occurred in the state in the past 14 months.