Tamil Nadu: 2.5 lakh people with AAY cards found ineligible
Govt downgrades them to NPHH category and replaces them with eligible families
CHENNAI: To ensure only the rightful beneficiaries avail assistance, the civil supplies and consumer protection department recently moved 2.5 lakh families holding Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) ration cards — earmarked for the extremely poor — to the Non-Priority Households (NPHH) category.
AAY cardholders are covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and are eligible to get 35 kg of rice or 25 kg of rice and 10 kg of wheat free of cost. They also get sugar at Rs 13.50 per kg, while other ration cardholders get it for Rs 25 per kg. However, NPHH cardholders are not eligible for subsidised foodgrains under NFSA.
The exercise of weeding out ineligible families from the ‘poorest of the poor’ category assumed significance as the DMK promised to provide Rs 1,000 as financial aid to women family heads in its election manifesto last year. Besides, the civil supplies, food and cooperation departments recently prepared a list of such people with their linked Aadhaar numbers and bank accounts.
V Rajaraman, commissioner, civil supplies and consumer protection, said field verification revealed that 2.5 lakh AAY cardholders didn’t meet the government-prescribed eligibility criteria. “They have been replaced with eligible families. The total number of AAY cards is 18.64 lakh and will remain unchanged,” he said.
AAY cards are issued to families with an annual income of up to Rs 15,000, pensioners, the disabled, destitute widows, slum dwellers, daily-wage workers, street vendors, household helps, and construction workers.
During the field verification, it was found that many AAY cardholders had two gas cylinders, received pension from welfare boards/governments, and sold or purchased property worth at least Rs 1 lakh. These people, along with deceased single-member AAY cardholders have now been removed from the list of beneficiaries.
As of November, the state has 2.2 crore ration cards, of which 1.09 crore are NPHH cards.About 3.64 crore poor people are covered under NFSA and were issued AAY (18.64 lakh) and Priority Households (PHH) (96.21 lakh) ration cards. The population under NFSA was decided based on 2011 census data.
“In Tamil Nadu, 3.64 crore people are covered under NFSA. This number will not be reduced and the needy will not be deprived,” explained Rajaraman.
Total cards: 2.24 crore
Non-priority Household (NPHH) - 1.1 crore cards
NPHH - Sugar - 3.5 lakh
NHPPH - No commodity: 60,000
AAY cards- 18.64 lakh
Priority Households (PHH) - 96.21 lakh
AAY & PHH cards are covered under NFSA (3.64 crore people) based on 2011 census.