MYSURU: Kamala is repenting not having returned to her hometown in Kushambi, Uttar Pradesh. She is one of the many migrant workers who did not join the exodus during the initial days of the pandemic, and who are now struggling for their daily bread.With business activity yet to pick up, these workers have little to fall back on. And neither is the much-publicised ‘One Nation One Ration card’ scheme doing them any good.
Kamala, her husband, a pani puri vendor, and his family of brothers and their children stayed back in Mysuru, hoping business would improve. “But there is no sign of this. Apart from us adults, there are six children. We are struggling for food.”
Under the ‘One Nation One Ration card’ scheme announced during the lockdown, a person can access rations at any PDS shop across the country. Despite the government including 24 states into the system, many labourers complain they are left high and dry. The scheme would have brought them under the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, helping them get free foodgrains and pulses till December.
Kamala’s husband, Harsh Gupta, said he visited a PDS shop for rations, but was told that his data was not uploaded yet. “The shop owner asked us to get a card locally. But without local address proof, we cannot get a ration card here,” he said.
Prakash, a carpenter from Rajasthan staying in Srirampura, Mysuru, shares a similar experience. “Everyone said we can use ration cards issued in our hometown, but it didn’t happen,” he said, adding that he has outstanding loans he took during the lockdown.
According to Food and Civil Supplies department officials, the issue is with states that are yet to computerise their distribution system, like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana and Odisha.
However, even those from Karnataka have encountered problems. “We got our ration card in Bengaluru, but have been living in Mysuru for several months. We thought ration card portability would help us, but the shop owner told us the card had expired and we need to renew it in Bengaluru. What is the use of portability if we can’t renew it here,” said Mohan, a retired private company employee.
To this, Food and Civil Supplies joint director (Mysuru) P Shivanna said that many states are yet to adopt the system, and asked those facing issues with ration cards to file complaints.