In an example of perseverance and determination to fight injustice, Chandravallabh Suyal of Sagudi village of Bhimtal in Nainital district used the tool of Right to Information (RTI) to get the Public Distribution System (PDS) ration which he was entitled to receive from the Food and Civil Supplies department. His consistent efforts ensured that the department supplied him two quintals of wheat and one quintal of rice which is 19 months of the ration he was entitled to. During the Covid-19 pandemic Suyal’s son lost his job and returned to his village. He applied for a new ration card for his son but the card was not made by the authorities. Meanwhile the local PDS dealer also stopped giving him ration. Suyal told The Pioneer that he demanded information from the Food and Civil Supplies department under the RTI Act. In his query to the Mahargaon supply inspector in Bhimtal on July 28, 2021 Suyal sought information about reasons for non disbursement of ration for a period of two years to him and asked questions on the time and process of getting a ration card online. When no information was provided to him Suyal filed an application to the first appellate officer, the Naintal district supply officer (DSO) on August 14, 2021. The issue finally came up to the State Information Commission on January 23, 2023 in which the appellant was not present but officers of the Food and Civil Supplies department were present. The commission was informed that Suyal had been provided with the ration his family was entitled for. The department provided him two quintals of wheat and one quintal of rice which was his due ration for 19 months. Interestingly this was done when the department realised that the appeal has been made to the State Information Commission.
While hearing the case the State Information commissioner Yogesh Bhatt also interacted with Suyal on phone to confirm the department’s claim that ration of 19 months has been given to him. In his order Bhatt said that it is clear that the ration cards of the people who became unemployed during the pandemic of Covid-19 in the year 2020 and 2021 were not made despite orders and the ration was not given to the family by the dealer concerned. “Instead of giving up Chandravallabh Suyal fought for his rights by using the RTI Act 2005 as a tool to fight an inherent vice in the system and won,’’ said Bhatt in his order.
Suyal told The Pioneer that people should know their rights and fight for them. He said that he is happy that his grievance was finally addressed.