BHUBANESWAR: When Budhan Jani of Kantasaru village under Papdahandi block in Nabarangpur district married Pramila last year, the family celebrated the advent of the bride and the addition of a new member with much joy. But, little did they realise that Pramila still is an outsider in official documents and deprived of social security benefits. For more than a year, she has been running from pillar to post to get her name included in the ration card of her in-laws but to no avail.
Her name was removed from the ration card of her father after her marriage. Though Budhan submitted a copy of her Aadhaar card and other details to panchayat officials, they expressed inability to add the name.
Pramila is not the only victim. Thousands of women in the State are unable to access their share of ration they are entitled under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) just for the reason of getting married and moving on to their new families. Their names are deleted from the ration card of their parents, but not added to the card of their in-laws. Several families also find it difficult to add names of children.
As per the 2011 Census, 46 per cent (pc) of migration was due to marriage, of which 97 pc were women. Since nearly 78 pc of Odisha’s population are PDS beneficiaries, observing the widespread exclusion of women, it is estimated that around 10 lakh women have been left out from PDS since NFSA came into force.A host of measures for ensuring beneficiaries their entitlements and simplification of procedures with the use of technology, notwithstanding, people in the State continue to suffer due to lack of monitoring and accountability.
For Pramila and her ilk, it would be the best gift this Women’s Day if the government develops a mechanism for easy inclusion of the deprived beneficiaries. The newly wed women from poor families are deprived of their entitlements as unlike Antyodaya Yojana under which a family is considered as a unit and entitled for 35 kg rice per month, the beneficiaries issued with priority household ration cards are individually entitled for 5 kg rice per month.
“This is why the women are suffering the most. Sometimes the beneficiaries are not aware that their names have been successfully added as dealers keep it secret for siphoning off ration,” said co-convenor of Odisha Right to Food Campaign Sameet Panda.The government lacks a transparent process to port names of migrated individuals and ironically, the process remains just as opaque as people find it difficult to navigate even after Aadhaar seeding and digitisation of PDS.
“A mechanism should be developed to inform when a beneficiary’s name is deleted or added. Since the ration card management system is dynamic, an updated list of beneficiaries must be made available at each fair price shop every month,” Panda pointed out.
10 lakh women left out from PDS
As per the 2011 Census, 46 pc of migration was due to marriage, of which 97 pc were women. Since nearly 78 pc of Odisha’s population are PDS beneficiaries, observing the widespread exclusion of women, it is estimated that around 10 lakh women have been left out from PDS since NFSA came into force.