ROURKELA: Efforts to weed out fake beneficiaries from the NFSA list seem to have crumbled in Sundargarh district following political intervention even as the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare (FS&CW) Department is under pressure to refund fines collected earlier.
Sources said buckling under pressure from the opposition BJP and Congress, the department in second week of August had suspended police action against ineligible beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), stopped recovery of fines and issued September 30 ultimatum for voluntary surrender of NFSA cards.
However, one month after the end of the deadline, there is no headway in this regard and unspecified number of fake beneficiaries continues to receive their quota of subsidised rations. Moreover, members of the Rourkela District Congress Committee (RDCC) recently took to the street for immediate refund of fines.
By the end of June, panic had gripped ineligible beneficiaries with the district administration launching crackdown against them. Till first week of August, fine to the tune of `2.51 crore was recovered, about 10,000 NFSA cards cancelled, 253 police complaints filed and at least 21 persons jailed, most of them female family heads. By then, resentment was also at its peak against the department for messing up the scheme with additional introduction of ninth exclusion criteria of three-room ‘pucca’ house from March 16.
After Rourkela BJP MLA Dilip Ray sought the intervention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on August 4, the Food Supply Department in a hurried decision announced to stop police action, recovery of fine and spare those who own three-room ‘pucca’ house under Indira Awas Yojana, PM Awas Yojana and Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana.
But interestingly none of the three housing schemes was implemented in Rourkela Municipal Corporation limits. Similarly, the Congress on August 11 called Rourkela bandh demanding removal of ninth criteria.
Sundargarh Civil Supplies Officer Abhiram Pradhan said further instruction over the issue is awaited from the State Government and as per the new refund norms, efforts are underway to supply details of ‘disputed’ beneficiaries for refund of fines to their bank accounts. Till now, about 13.98 lakh persons have been covered through 4.07 lakh NFSA cards while the district’s monthly quota of rice and wheat stands at around 7,000 tonnes and 1,200 tonnes respectively.
FS&CW Dept is under pressure to refund fines collected from the beneficiaries earlier
The dept in second week of August had suspended police action against ineligible beneficiaries and stopped recovery of fines
It had issued September 30 ultimatum for voluntary surrender of NFSA cards till first week of August, fine to the tune of C2.51 crore was recovered and 10,000 NFSA cards cancelled.