Pongal cash gift may land in TN ration card holders’ bank accounts directly

 As per latest data, the state has 2.20 crore ration card holders. “Except 14.6 lakh beneficaries,  all others have bank accounts,” an official said.

Published: 02nd December 2022 03:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd December 2022 09:03 AM   |  A+A-

ration cards

Image of ration cards for representational purposes

Express News Service

CHENNAI: In line with the practice of crediting subsidies in the form of cash through direct benefit transfer, ration card holders, for the first time, may receive cash gifts for the Pongal festival through bank transfers in January as Tamil Nadu government aims to stop possible pilferage and address logistical and security challenges in handling thousands of crore in cash. As per the latest data, the state has 2.20 crore ration card holders. “Except 14.6 lakh beneficiaries,  all others have bank accounts,” an official said.

“Ration shop staff had distributed Rs 5,600 crore in cash each year to 2.10 crore cardholders over the past two years without much trouble. But if the cardholders leave the money in banks for a few days, the corpus will generate a few more crores in interest,” an official said. Though the state government has not officially declared the decision to transfer Pongal cash through bank transfers, sources said works are on to implement the plan this year. 

The department of civil supplies and consumer protection, which is the nodal agency for distributing Pongal gifts and cash assistance, recently scrutinised the records of ration card holders to ascertain whether bank accounts were linked to the Aadhaar details of all family cardholders. As per the exercise, carried out with the support of the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA), it has been found that 14.6 lakh ration cards have not yet been linked to their bank accounts. 

During a meeting conducted by the department of cooperation on Tuesday, regional joint registrars of cooperative societies were told to facilitate the opening of savings accounts for 14.6 lakh ration cardholders in cooperative banks. “The decision on distributing cash gifts for Pongal will be announced by the CM,” officers said.  

Officials told to expand co-op bank customer base

“We have been asked to expand the customer base for cooperative banks,” said an official. The practice of providing cash with gift hampers for Pongal was introduced in January 2014 with Rs 100 cash and one kg raw rice and one kg sugar.

Since then, for every Pongal, except 2015, cash and gift bags have been given to cardholders. In 2019, the cash aid was increased to Rs 1,000, and then Rs 2,500 in 2020. In 2021, Rs 2,500 was given to each cardholder along with a gift.

The cash benefits given during Pongal and the Covid lockdown were received by 99.12% of beneficiaries. In January, Pongal gift hampers with 21 items were given to 2.1 crore ration cardholders at an expenditure of Rs 1,297 crore. The cash was not given since Rs 4,000 was distributed through ration shops in two installments soon after the DMK assumed office in May last year.

TN farmers file PIL over Pongal hamper goods  
The Madras HC  has issued notice to TN on a PIL filed by a farmers’ body that wanted the HC to direct the state govt to purchase farm products for Pongal gift only from Tamil Nadu farmers.



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