Social economist Jean Dreze blames Aadhaar based authentication in PDS for seven starvation deaths in Jharkhand
Dreze has debunked Aadhar’s advantage in the Public Distribution System (PDS) and stressed for a simple smart card system to ensure effective implementation of the food delivery mechanism.
RANCHI: Social economist Jean Dreze has debunked Aadhar’s advantage in the Public Distribution System (PDS) and stressed for a simple smart card system to ensure effective implementation of the food delivery mechanism.
Presenting a report prepared by the Right to Food (RTF) campaign activists on three suspected starvation deaths at Giridih, Chatra and Ramgarh, Drèze said none of the victims would have died of starvation if the National Food Security Act (NFSA) was implemented effectively.
"The state government has not accepted even one of these starvation deaths. Instead, they are trying to defame the Right to Food activists by terming their report as fake. This is not new and is being continued since the last two years for which we had also warned the government that Aadhar-based authentication has been troubling the people,” he said. "Out of the 12 cases of starvation deaths identified by us, seven are related to Aadhar in one way or another, be it Simdega, Garhwa or Giridih."
Moreover, all these cases were related to Dalits or tribals where they did not had food to eat or money to buy them, he said. “If they had either of it, they wouldn’t have died of hunger.”
"As far as the NFSA provisions are to be considered, eligibility criteria for issuing ration card to a household has been clearly defined under which families of all those people died of starvation during the last few months, automatically qualify for getting a ration card.”
It is the government’ responsibility to issue ration card at least to those who are eligible for it, he added.
"Hence, we have been pressing to make ration card universal for everyone, which will not affect much to the exchequer. If it is made universal, no one will have to sleep empty stomach in the state."
As 86 per cent of the population is already covered under the NFSA, the government will have to spend less than 1 per cent of the state budget for covering the remaining, Dreze added.
RTF activists claimed that despite at least 12 starvation deaths, the Jharkhand government has denied hunger resulted in these deaths and absolved itself of any blame.
"Instead, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Saryu Roy has made a series of fallacious claims and accusations against activists who have been highlighting the gross violations of right to food in Jharkhand," said RTF activist Swati Narayan.