Getting Anna Bhagya rice not an easy task in Karnataka
By Express News Service | Published: 02nd September 2013 08:44 AM |
Despite a statewide crackdown on errant fair price shops (FPS) that attracted Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s ire, many below poverty line (BPL) families are facing problems in getting their share of rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme.
Just into its second month — Anna Bhagya was launched on July 10 — the problems being faced by people to get the rice at `1 per kg promised to them are many. Express did a ground reality check and found problems ranging from being charged extra for rice to not being allotted BPL cards to not getting any rice at all.
In Chikballapur, close to 20,000 BPL and APL card applications are pending for the past two months of which 9,000 are expected to be BPL cards.
In Bijapur district, people are complaining of being given only 25 kg of rice instead of the stipulated 30 kg. A farmer of Allapur Tanda, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they were being made to pay extra money to get 30 kg. “Many FPS sell salt, oil, soap and other items instead of distributing rice. We cannot speak out against them as we have to depend on them in the end,” he said.
Admitting that complaints had been received about some shops charging more money, the deputy director of Food and Civil Supplies Department in Chitradurga, B Shivanna, said: “There are several complaints of FPS owners charging more money for the grains. This will be prevented in the future.”
Shivanna also said that non-renewal of temporary cards had led to a temporary suspension of allotment which would be sorted out by next month. He mentioned that the government was considering increasing the commission of the shops soon.
The card renewal problem has also affected Gulbarga where a check at the Food and Civil Supplies Department revealed a group of 60 BPL card-holders of Rajapur Colony waiting to renew their cards after not receiving food grains for three months. “My family and eight other families are being refused grains. Though we renewed our cards, the list has not reached the shop. He (shop owner) refused to give us rice under the Anna Bhagya and said our names have not reached his list yet,” Kirankumar of Hanumant Nagar of Shahabad town in Chittapur, Minister Baburao Chinchansur’s constituency, said.
In Mysore and Chamrajnagar districts, distribution is going on smoothly, but residents allege that they are being given less rice. Several shops in the district use old-fashioned weighing machines which can be easily manipulated. Only shops in Mysore city and taluk use electronic weighing machines.
In Chamarajnagar, a beneficiary, who collects rice from the FPS at Harave-Ketahalli, said he got only 25 kg of rice against the 30 kg that he was entitled for. Further, he said the shopkeeper took 25 paise extra claiming ‘transportation cost.’ “We have to see his face daily, how can we fight with him. We just take 25 kg,” he said.
Department’s deputy director Sombaiah said they have taken action against shops that charge more. They have suspended nine licences in the district so far.
An FPS charging 20 paise extra per kg has been suspended after verification by the authorities who acted on a complaint from Mulbagal.
In some towns like Talikoti, a single FPS handles more than 4,900 BPL cards. This has divided itself into three units for the convenience of BPL families. Many illiterate workers are not able to take advantage of online registration for BPL cards and are complaining of being charged money for issuance of the cards.
Deputy Commissioner Shivayogi Kalasad recently suspended the licences of six such shops based on complaints about misuse of their licences at Halgani, Katral, Kaggod, Kumate villages in Bijapur taluk and Siddanath, Kolhar, villages in Basavan Bagewadi taluk.
Plagued by labour problems, supply has been affected as helpers are reluctant to come to work citing low wages. Low commissions to FPS coupled with high rents is forcing owners to sell grains in the open market.
Deputy director B Shivanna said: “FPS at Haykal in Chitradurga taluk and Obannanahalli in Challakere taluk were suspended for demanding extra money from the Anna Bhagya beneficiaries recently.”
Manjunath, a beneficiary at Chikkagondanahalli, said: “FPS owners are giving 30 kg of rice correctly, but they are charging `5 in excess which is illegal. This should be stopped.”
“During the first month, there was a slight delay in a few pockets of the district. Now, problems like storage and distribution have been sorted out,” said Deputy Commissioner Vipul Bansal.
“Rice for September has arrived and steps are being taken for distribution to all shops,” he added.
Many eligible families are complaining that their names have been dropped from the list of BPL card-holders. Baby, from Kanchana Shantinagar in Puttur, has been forced to roll beedis in order to support a differently-abled son. “We have been issued APL cards despite our protests,” she rued. Others complained that white rice was being distributed instead of boiled rice and that it was being declined by people because it was not part of their diet.
A staff shortage has led to improper verification and faulty distribution procedures in the district which have rendered the BPL families helpless. In the past few days, several memoranda have been received by the district administration complaining of issues like APL families receiving BPL cards and vice versa.
Deputy director M C Srinivasaiah said that responding to the complaints against FPS for their alleged improper distribution of ration, the department has suspended licences of three shops in the district and two more shops are in the process of getting suspended in Belgaum city.
Admitting to staff shortage, he clarified that there was neither shortage of food grains nor had the government held back allotments to BPL families.
Card-holders availed the rice at `1, but some sold the same between `6 and `15 per kg.
Closed 50 FPS
Commissioner (Food and Civil Supplies) Harsh Gupta denied any shortage in supply of subsidised food grains and also clarified that the government had not linked the scheme to Aadhaar cards. He also said that stern action will be taken against any fair price shop owner found guilty of either not delivering the rice or selling at higher price. The government has already shut down 50 FPS, he pointed out.
The shopkeeper takes 25 paise extra claiming transportation cost. We have to see his face daily, how can we fight with him. We just take 25 kg
— Beneficiary from Charamrajnagar
My family and eight other families are being refused food grains. Though we renewed our BPL cards, the list has not reached the fair price shop owner
— Kirankumar, of Hanumant Nagar in Chittapur
Happy with scheme
After implementation of Anna Bhagya scheme I am getting 30 kg of rice properly from the Government Employees’ Union Fair Price Shop. The shop which was irregular is now open on all days during the distribution of food grains. I am happy
— Lakshmamamma, a BPL Cardholder at Tyagaraja Street in C’durga
We are getting 30 kg of rice under Anna Bhagya scheme regularly at `1 per kg and there are no problems
— Kariyanna, at Dodda Ullarthy in Chitradurga