ROURKELA: While siphoning off subsidized commodities through ghost public distribution system (PDS) cards continues in Rourkela for decades, the local administration is facing an uphill task of rectifying the faulty database of existing ration card holders.
Sources said breaking the unholy nexus among unscrupulous civil supplies employees and Government retailers would also be the key to stop loot of food commodities meant for urban poor under National Food Security Scheme (NFSS), State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) and Antadaya Yojana (AY).
A fact finding team of the Sundargarh administration has started inquiry into the presence of 1,932 alleged ghost cards after the Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) failed to trace the beneficiaries during distribution of Covid-19 cash relief.
The Civil Supply authorities, on the other hand, claimed to have distributed ration to all the 67,971 PDS card holders in the city. The in-charge Additional Civil Supplies Officer (ACSO) Milan Majhi also refuted the presence of any ghost cards.
Those familiar with the functioning of the Civil Supplies Office said it is difficult to track ghost cards due to faulty or incomplete databases. For instance, addresses of many beneficiaries are mentioned only as Bondamunda which houses five RMC wards with over 30,000 population. Also, the Aadhar details of numerous beneficiaries do not match with their ration cards.
They said dedicated verification of the cards by multiple teams, use of technology, complete database of beneficiaries and accountability of Civil Supplies employees are required to clean the mess.
Former secretary of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Rash Ranjan Padhi said PDS irregularities are being reported throughout the district. He said breaking the nexus of unscrupulous Civil Supplies officers and retailers will be the key to stop PDS corruption.
He questioned how the full quota of ration was distributed in Rourkela till July, while 1,932 beneficiaries could not be tracked for cash distribution.