After note-bandi, ration-bandi adds to woes of citizens

The new PDS system—which relies on biometric authentication of ration card holder—has allegedly provided several new ways to PDS dealers for ration pilferage and corruption

NH photo
NH photo

Aas Mohd Kaif

Instead of checking ration pilferage and corruption, the new changes brought about in the Public Distribution System (PDS) by the government in the past few years, have been denying subsidised food-ration to many people living under the below poverty line in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh.

The starvation deaths of tribal girl in Jharkhand’s Simdega district and middle-aged-woman Sakina—who could not go to the ration shop for biometric authentication due to poor health, in Bareili hogged headlines. But there are tens of thousands of poor families which have been left high and dry by new PDS policy.

Since its only old women who have been marked as the family heads in new ration-cards, they find it difficult to go to the outlets because of poor health and other reasons.

Saeeda, 65, is bedridden for the past few months after she accidentally fell down and had her leg fractured. Now the local ration dealer is refusing to give ration to her family without her thumb print.

According to Gaurav Bharati, a resident, there are many ways to black market ration meant for the poor and needy under new PDS system. For example, he says, many ration dealers have collected hundreds of Aadhaar cards of people who are also ration card holders. “On the pretext of linking their ration cards with their Aadhaar, they keep telling them the process has not yet been completed. This is how their quota is stolen and sold in the black market.”

“The government takes decisions without taking into consideration the ground realities. They decided on note bandi in the same manner. The decision fell flat. Similarly, the new system of ration distribution has so many shortcomings. The dishonesty and corruption by dealers has not reduced in any way. The new PDS system has provided them new ways for ration pilferage and corruption,” he adds.

“The old list of needy people was completely ignored at the time of preparation of new ration cards. The officials including village Pradhan, secretary and ration dealer together selected people of their own choice, disregarding the criteria,” he complains.

Ahsaan Kaifi, another resident laments: “When an illiterate woman or a old person goes to a ration shop, the dealer takes the thumb print on the biometric machine. But instead of providing the ration, he tells them to come again some other day as the thumb print was not approved because of technical snag. One believes he is speaking the truth and returns home. Thereafter, they keep making rounds of the shop again and again but to no avail.”

Many people have been facing problems in linking their ration cards with the Aadhaar cards. “People are called to Jaansath (Block headquarters) for getting Aadhaar card linked to their ration cards. A labourer has to forego one day’s earnings to visit Jaansath. When he reaches the office, he is told bring along the head of the family, who happens to be aged and infirm or ailing. After that, one or the other mistake is pointed out in the documents,” a local social worker, Sunny Khan says.

Anita Prajapati of Mukallampura says the old PDS system was much better. “I have been making rounds of Jaansath for the eight days but I am yet to get my Aadhaar card linked to the ration card,” she rues.

Irshaad, a resident of Rasoolpur complains that some unscrupulous officials have been seeking graft for this job. “If you grease their palms, then all these problems get sorted out within no time. Otherwise, you keep running from pillar to post,” he claims.

Shawaz Alam of Mujheda village corroborates his views. “The government claimed that the new ration distribution system will eradicate corruption and black marketing of ration but what is happening is entirely opposite of the intended objectives.”

The district BSP head, Surendra Kumar says, “Just like note ban was touted to be a revolutionary change but in actuality it proved to be a disaster, the new ration distribution policy has resulted into ration-bandi. And the poor are suffering .

The alleged corruption in PDS, according to residents, is not limited to the selection of intended beneficiaries and linkage of Aadhaar and ration cards. Javed, a resident of Rasoolpur, for instance, doesn’t have a ration card and yet he gets subsidies ration from local PDS dealer every month, they complain.

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Published: 18 Nov 2017, 6:51 PM