Additional scrutiny delays issue of smart ration cards by 3 to 4 months
As of April, the state has 2.24 crore family ration cards, with an average of 3.2 family members per card.
CHENNAI: Due to a surge in applications for new ration cards, the civil supplies and consumer protection department has introduced additional verification processes before approving and printing smart cards. As a result, the distribution of new smart ration cards has been delayed by three to four months.
Many applicants who received text notifications confirming the approval of their cards in February and March said they are yet to receive the physical smart cards.
Official sources said nearly 15 lakh new cards have been issued since May 2021, the highest across the country. “The delay can be attributed partly to multiple applications received for the same dwelling units. A large number of new applicants lack LPG connections. Furthermore, newlyweds who apply for separate cards while residing at their parents’ houses have added to the workload,” explained the official. The applications were also verified with other relevant details of the applicants with the support of the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency, added the official.
As of April, the state has 2.24 crore family ration cards, with an average of 3.2 family members per card. Since May 2021, the department has been processing more than 60,000 new ration card applications per month. “I recently moved with my parents to a new house near Perambur. My new card application was approved by the assistant supply officer (ASO) in February. However, I am yet to receive the smart card, due to which I am unable to avail my entitled rations,” said S Kala.
Like her, others are also awaiting the new cards. A family from Otteri near Purasawalkam is waiting for the past two months. “The online status indicates that it was approved by the ASO of Thousand Light two months ago. However, I have not received it,” said B Bharathi.
A senior official clarified that there has been no delay in the printing of the cards. “The smart card printing process has been decentralised for a few years now and is being handled at the district level. Even after the card is approved, we conduct checks. Only when the card is activated at the fair price shop should it be considered issued.”
The official added that the number of applications is increasing every month in anticipation of the Rs 1,000 monthly assistance scheme set to launch on September 15, as well as the Pongal gifts being distributed every January.
As part of a data cleaning exercise conducted last year, 2.5 lakh families holding Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cards, which are intended for the poor, were downgraded to non-priority cards. According to the government’s policy, families possessing two gas cylinders, receiving pensions from welfare boards or governments, and having bought or sold property worth at least Rs 1 lakh were deemed ineligible for AAY or PHH cards.