Civil Supplies Department to Crack Down on Ineligible Ration Card Holders
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With new ration cards set to be issued by March next year as part of enforcing the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the Civil Supplies Department is putting in place stringent measures to prevent ineligible individuals/families from sneaking into the ‘Priority’ category list, which is set to replace the BPL ration cards. NFSA will be enforced from October 2 this year, and the department is racing against time to distribute the ‘Priority’ and ‘General’ category cards by March 1, 2015.
Bogus Ration Cards
Stern action will be taken against ration card holders who provide incorrect information in the ‘pre-populated data cards’ which will be distributed through ration shops in September, Civil Supplies director A T James said. These cards have to be filled in and returned to the ration shops. “Providing wrong data can lead to stern action including prosecution. Every card holder will have to give an undertaking that the information provided is correct. The officers in charge of the process too will be held accountable,” James said. The department is in the process of fine-tuning a multi-tiered mechanism for the verification and preparation of the final list for the new ration cards, he said.
Social Audit Mooted
Social audits and random inspections by top officials also form part of the mammoth exercise. Shortage of time and the possibility of large-scale corruption in the identification of priority list families are the major worry for the department.
The second is expected to be a real headache. The chances of favouritism coming into play - especially with the local body elections peeping around the corner - are extremely high, since elected representatives of local bodies will be deeply involved in the preparation of the ‘Priority’ list.
This is how the department is setting about to issue the new cards. After the filled-in ‘pre-populated data cards’ are returned, draft lists on the priority category will be published. The lists will be up for public scrutiny and objections, if any, can be filed within 15 days.
Draft List Scrutiny
The draft list will be verified by a committee headed by Rationing Inspectors and consisting of Village Officer, Panchayat secretary and a Social Welfare/Health Department official. After scaling this level, the list will undergo scanning by a committee headed by the Panchayat president and the ward councillor concerned. This committee finalises the list and the local body concerned also must pass a resolution approving it. Only after this will the cards be issued. Further grievances, if any, have to be taken up with the District Collector. The draft list, according to Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob, will be published in December. The final list will be out in January 2015.