Despite a statewide crackdown on errant Fair Price Shops (FPS), many families living below the poverty line (BPL) are facing problems in getting their share of rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme in Karnataka.
Just into its second month -- Anna Bhagya was launched on July 10 -- the problems being faced by people to get rice at `1 per kg are many. Express did a check and found issues ranging from charging extra money for giving 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 this, 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 from Allapur Tanda, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had to pay extra money to get 30 kg of rice. “Many Public Distribution System (PDS) shops 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 against some shops charging more, Deputy Director of Food and Civil Supplies Department in Chitradurga B Shivanna said: “There are several complaints of FPS owners getting more money for the grains. This will be prevented in future.”
Shivanna said 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 a plan to increase the commission to the shops soon.
The card renewal problem has also affected Gulbarga, where a check at the Food and Civil Supplies Department showed a group of 60 BPL cardholders of Rajapur Colony waiting to renew their cards. They have not been receiving foodgrain for three months.
“Nine families, including mine, are being denied foodgrain. Though we renewed our cards, the list has not reached the shop. He (shop owner) refused to give us rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme,” said Kirankumar of Hanumant Nagar of Shahabad town in Chittapur.
In Mysore and Chamrajnagar districts, distribution is going on smoothly, but residents alleged that they were being given less rice. Several shops in the district use old-fashioned weighing machines that could be easily manipulated.
Only shops in Mysore city and taluk use electronic weighing machines.
In Chamarajnagar, a beneficiary who collects rice from the PDS shop 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, attributing it to transportation cost. “We have to see him daily, how can we fight with him. We just take 25 kg,” he said.
In Chamarajanagar, Food and Civil Supplies Deputy Director Sombaiah said they have suspended licences of nine shops so far for charging more. However, there are a few lucky ones too. One of them, Lakshmamma, a BPL cardholder at Tyagaraja Street in Chitradurga, said: “After the implementation of the scheme, I am getting 30 kg of rice properly from the Fair Price Shop.”