CHENNAI: A rapid assessment says that close to one in two families (48%) living in Perumbakkam do not have ration cards linked to fair-price shops in the area. The assessment, done by Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) and Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), also shows that for many of the 8,622 families living in the area, their cards were not linked to the PDS shops in their earlier places of residence, too, within the capital city.
These families did not receive any assistance from the government even during the peak days of the pandemic and they were solely dependent for relief from private players, the report said. Of the total 18,000 families in the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) tenements in Perumbakkam, only 9,378 families are enrolled in fair price shops in the area. Even for the families that are enrolled, buying essentials is not an easy task, say some residents.
“The biometric authentication does not work most of the times and the staff ask us to leave. We wait for hours under the hot sun to only be told that the biometric system doesn’t function. But, by the end of the month, we receive bill texts on our mobile phones while we had not made any purchase at all,” laments Sujatha, a resident.
According to the report published, the residents are forced to purchase additional items that they don’t ask for, like cumin seeds, gram flour, etc. Further, the shops close by noon and people who go to work find it difficult to avail the services. If any person complains about the service to the shop staff, there are instances of their cards getting forcefully transferred to other shops.
There are cases where the cards of people residing in Old Perumbakkam have been shifted to the fair price shop in New Perumbakkam without their consent, the report stated. According to the Cooperation, Food, and Consumer Protection Department policy note (2014-15), a full-time fair price shop shall have a minimum of 800 cards and a maximum of 1,000 in the municipal corporation and municipal areas. By these norms, Perumbakkam should have 18 shops, whereas, it now has only six functional, full-time shops, as on March 2021.
‘Regular camps conducted’
When contacted, a Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board official told Express that from the board’s part, regular camps are being conducted for the residents of Perumbakkam tenements and that further follow-ups should be done with the civil supplies corporation