For the first time in the state, common people and the dealers of fair price shops (FPS) have surrendered as many as 5.10 lakh bogus ration cards to the state Civil Supplies Department in the past one-and-a half months. Officials of the department expect a surrender of an additional 90,000 fake ration cards by September end.
The government is expected to save around Rs 24 crore a month with the surrender of the bogus ration cards. At present, the government is spending around Rs 250 crore every month as subsidy for providing essential commodities to the BPL families in the state.
In the first week of August, minister for civil supplies D Sridhar Babu had appealed the people and the FPS dealers to surrender the bogus ration cards in their possession within a given time to avoid any action from the authorities. Subsequently, officials passed orders to the dealers and individual card holders to return bogus cards before August 31. However, the department extended the deadline to September 30 after the joint collectors of various districts requested for it.
People from all the 23 districts have surrendered bogus cards till Thursday. However, low surrender was recorded in the poverty-stricken districts of the Rayalaseema region and in the districts of Vizianagaram and Mahabubnagar. “We will complete the programme of voluntary bogus ration cards surrender by the end of this month,” civil supplies commissioner Harpreet Singh said. He added that the number of surrendered bogus cards may go up to 6 lakh by the September end.
Civil supplies Department director T Chiranjeevulu said vigilance and enforcement officials will initiate a special drive from October to weed out the menace. “Legal action will be taken against holders of fake ration cards,” he added.
On an average, the government spends Rs 400 as subsidy on each ration card every month. With the submission of around 6 lakh bogus cards by the end of the month, the government is expected to save about Rs 24 crore every month.