Government at wit's end over ration card muddle

BANGALORE: The Department of Food and Civil Supplies has been on a drive to collect copies of ration cards, electricity bills of current address and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections from

Published: 17th February 2011 03:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 08:00 PM   |  A+A-


Gas agencies are facing long queues with the government asking its APL ration card holders to submit copies of ration cards, EB bills or LPG proof.

BANGALORE: The Department of Food and Civil Supplies has been on a drive to collect copies of ration cards, electricity bills of current address and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) connections from the Above Poverty Line (APL) consumers across the state.

Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Shobha Karandlaje and Principal Secretary of the department B A Harish Gowda have repeatedly appealed to the citizens of Bangalore to submit their documents.

This is an exercise undertaken by the department to locate bogus ration cards.

“As per the census, there are over 1.2 crore households in Karnataka and over 1.6 crore ration cards. This proves an existence of nearly 40 lakh bogus ration cards leading to a revenue loss of nearly Rs 100 crore,” said Gowda.

This exercise has been completed for Below Poverty Line ration card holders through  fair price shops.

On requests to take other identity or address proofs such as phone bills or passport numbers, he said the Bescom has lent their database to verify addresses of ration card holders.

Every home uses electricity and the meters cannot be duplicated or geographically shifted, hence the need to submit copy of electricity bills. If the consumer does not use electricity, the person needs to give a written declaration to be verified later. 

Tenants and those who share meters too need to submit their electricity bills and LPG consumer number.

But this exercise has been fraught with problems.

Documents remain uncollected: gas agencies

Despite the Food and Civil Supplies Department’s promises on regular collection of documents, dust is accumulating on the boxes of documents at various agencies since January 18.

“The minister does not have any work, so they are making us do extra work. We have 20,582 gas connections in our agency and until now, we have collected documents from 12,650 consumers. This has affected our regular work such as taking orders for booking cylinders, issuing new connections and delivery of cylinders. Is the government going to pay me for this extra work,” said an owner of Indane gas agency in Bangalore. She did not want her name to be published fearing backlash from the department.

Ravi Kumar, a gas agency agent, too is an angry man.

“A similar exercise was carried out last year but our entire effort of collecting the documents became a waste of time for the department did not come and collect them,” he said.

Some agencies reported to TNIE that for several days, their representatives have been trying to meet the minister but to no avail. Principal secretary Harish Gowda assured the media not to worry about the collection. “We will collect it,” he said.

Government vs gas agencies

The new directive to gas agencies to collect copies of ration cards before issuing gas connection is irrelevant in Karnataka because the state offers no subsidy on domestic LPG cylinders.

Yet, several distributors are collecting copies of ration cards before issuance of connection. In neighbouring states such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where a subsidy is offered on domestic gas connections over and above the subsidy offered by the Central Government, copies of ration cards are collected.

According to a circular issued by Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, ration card is not a mandatory document to obtain a LPG connection and a visit to their website showed that the agencies ask only for address proof for a new connection.

On the ground, only Indane gas agency distributors seem to be following the directives of the Department.

If this is the case, then the logic behind the department’s drive to collect copies of the ration cards or their electricity bills is not understood. Further, their reasoning that this drive is being conducted to weed out bogus ration cards falls flat.

When TNIE posed this question to the secretary, Principal Secretary Harish Gowda said: “With this exercise, we are going to get a tally of the number of people with ration cards and those who have rations cards elsewhere or just a gas connection. The remaining names on our database would be proved bogus, pending investigation.”

The gas agencies and the government are also at loggerhead over the question of disconnection of LPG connections.

“If gas connections are found to be illegal, then the supply to that connection would be terminated. If gas agencies fail to comply with the rule, then criminal action would be take.”

A retired official of Food and Civil Supplies Department said the government has no power to disconnect the supply and if the agencies go to court, the government will not be able to explain itself.

India Matters


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