Black Market Kerosene Floods Jharkhand

Tribals kept out of PDS have to opt for illegal fuel.

About The Video: Kerosene is the fuel that lights the stoves of some of the poorest families in India. The price of the fuel is heavily subsidised by the government and it can only be sold through the Public Distribution System. But like most government schemes and systems, as it moves deeper into the heartlands and badlands of the nation, it fails the people who need it most.

Corruption and irregularities in the kerosene distribution system has given rise to a thriving black market where it is sold at almost double the fair price. In the village of Sarjamda, East Sighbum, Jharkhand, the tribal inhabitants have not yet been registered into the Public Distribution System, which is controlled by the upper classes. The tribal have been using firewood until early 2011 when tankers filled with black market kerosene began making appearances in the village square. The families that could afford the high prices made the shift to the fuel while the poorest still rely on firewood.

Repeated inquires made to the concerned officials were turned down and Community Correspondent Jairam Hansda, longtime resident of the village, decided to produce a video on the issue.

Our Community Correspondent says: “It was an issue that was foremost on my mind. You have to worry about it each time you cook your food. It was a perfect example of an everyday issue for my community and when talks were not working out, I decided to make a video,” says Jairam. “It is not just the scenario in my village but a condition that afflicts most of rural Jharkhand. Fuel is a basic amenity. To keep it away from the poorest is to literally consign them to the darkness.”

Jairam Hansda is the IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent from East Singhbum district, Jharkhand. He spoke to IndiaUnheard on the experience of making his first video.

“How long are we going to keep quiet? We might as well start talking right now. With that thought in my head I got over my hesitation and began making my first video. Once I got the footage, I thought to myself- why not take it to the officials and see what they have to say? And with that thought in mind, I went to pay him a visit.”

“Actually, I visited him twice. He was very governmental and mostly, unresponsive. I went again and this time, I showed him the video and gave him a piece of mind. I took him right back to school and re-educated him in the ways of the world. He ended up promising to look into the matter, getting the tribals registered and bring about a change.Things are definitely starting to look better.”

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