CHENNAI: Over 22,000 people who have applied for new, smart ration cards have been kept waiting for the past six months. Even though the applications have been approved following verification by revenue staff, thousands of families have been deprived of their food entitlements owing to the delay in obtaining cards. This includes applications for priority cards earmarked for the poorest of the poor and other categories.
As part of the preparations for a monthly honorarium scheme for women family heads, the government imposed a restriction on the printing of new ration cards in April. As a result, pending applications for new cards have crossed 22,000, official data accessed by TNIE revealed.
An official from civil supplies department said, “The restriction on printing new cards has not been lifted as yet. We are awaiting a government order. A card will be considered issued only after it has been activated at a fair price shop.”
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 civil supplies department has been handling more than 30,000 applications per month. Nearly 15 lakh new cards have been issued since May 2021, which was the highest number issued across the country.
M Harish, a resident of Madipakkam, said, “I received a confirmation message saying the card was approved in April. I have been living separately from my wife for two years, yet I haven’t received a new card.” B Bharathi of Otteri near Purasawalkam said, “We were regularly buying sugar and other commodities when we were part of a joint family. Now we live separately and, without a card, are unable to lift our food entitlements.
We might also be denied our benefits during Pongal next year. The online status of my application said it has been approved by the ASO of Thousand Light in April, and I received a text alert saying the card would be sent to the fair shop assigned in Purasawalkam. Despite repeated pleas, I was asked to wait.”
Civil supplies commissioner Har Sahay Meena could not be reached for comments. An official said, “The matter has been escalated to the government. Orders on printing of new ration cards are expected any time.”