Single women now ‘family’ in TN, to avail ration cards

Single women in the State, who have separated from their husbands or parents, will now be recognised as ‘family’, and will be issued ration cards by the civil supplies department.
Image of ration cards for representational purposes
Image of ration cards for representational purposes

CHENNAI: Single women in the State, who have separated from their husbands or parents, will now be recognised as ‘family’, and will be issued ration cards by the civil supplies department.

Sources said the change in criteria for definition of a family comes following multiple representations that women, who reside separately without legally parting ways with their partners, are unable to get ration cards.

Presently, the name of a family member can only be removed from the ration card in the event of the person’s death, marriage, adoption or divorce. Upon submitting documents, the name can be added to a new card or a fresh card can be applied for.

“When a husband is unwilling to remove the name of his wife, who lives separately, from the ration card, the woman is losing her food security guaranteed under the Constitution. Hence, based on the self-declaration of the woman, followed by a field verification report by the Revenue Inspector, Civil Supplies zonal officers are empowered to remove the woman from the husband’s ration card and issue her a new card,” said an official release from the State on Monday. Officials told TNIE the relaxation will be applicable to unmarried single women too. 

Benefits will reach the needy, says AIDWA

“Th e procedure for availing family ration cards will be the same for unmarried women who are separated from their parents. In both the cases, the beneficiary woman should have a kitchen with a gas connection to cook food at her house. She shall meet her food demands separately,” added the official.

The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), one of the organisations that has been demanding ration cards for single women, hailed the decision as progressive.

SK Ponnuthayi, State secretary of AIDWA , said single women from the lower economic strata could not avail of the benefits given during Pongal and the lockdown as they lacked ration cards. “Besides bringing food security, the decision will ensure that all the benefits given by the government reach the needy population,” Ponnuthayi said.

Echoing a similar view, senior advocate Sudha Ramalingam said there is no rationality in saying ‘one ration card for one family’. “There is no marital law that specifies that a married couple should live together. We are always guided by patriarchy. It’s due to custom that women live in the husband’s family. Even if there is no rift, working spouses may be staying at two different places,” she said.

Existing procedures
● A married woman living alone with children or dependents, is not eligible for a ration card unless she is divorced. A copy of court order granting divorce is needed to delete the name
● Unmarried single women are not considered ‘family’ as they “always live with their parents”

Revised norms
● A single woman who lives alone is eligible for family ration cards

Criteria for single women to get ration cards
● Women should have a kitchen with a gas connection (preferably) or a cooking facility.
● Written self-declaration of staying alone
● House will be audited by Revenue Inspector
● Aadhaar and Gas bill

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