File photo of Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel | @bhupeshbaghel/Twitter
File photo of Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel | @bhupeshbaghel/Twitter
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Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government has found out that nearly one out of every four ration cards to Public Distribution System (PDS) beneficiaries in the state was bogus.

After it launched a special four-month verification drive last year using Aadhaar, the Congress government discovered that 16 lakh of the state’s 72 lakh PDS cards, or nearly 22 per cent, were bogus, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said at a media event in Bengaluru Saturday.

These cards — across the two Below Poverty Line and Above Poverty Line categories — were either made in the name of non-existent beneficiaries, or there was duplication of names, said two officials in the state Department of Food and Civil Supplies.

The cards were made in the 15 years of the BJP regime in the state from 2003 to 2018, said the officials who didn’t wish to be named.

The revelations came after the government made Aadhaar linkage mandatory for PDS cards.

According to the officials, the verification drive was taken up between August and November 2019 following rampant complaints of illegally made ration cards during the previous BJP regime.

Also read: Chhattisgarh follows Kejriwal govt model, looks to set up English medium schools by June

‘Surprisingly high’ numbers

Kamalpreet Singh, secretary, Department of Food and Civil Supplies, told ThePrint, “It’s true that a staggering 16 lakh fake PDS cards were unearthed during the verification drive carried out by the state government in the last quarter of 2019. In the period between 2013 and 2014, we found 72 lakh ration card holders. That was a very high number seeing at the Census data.”

He said, “Surprisingly almost 2.5 lakh of them were non-existent card holding beneficiaries. No PDS card holder was found at the addresses mentioned in documents when the verification teams reached there.”

Singh added that other bogus ration cards were unearthed on the grounds of non-availability of documentary evidence with beneficiaries and their disqualifications on income grounds.

According to the secretary, there were large number of ration card holders who did not qualify for the categories under which their cards were made.

The department officials claimed that a large number of bogus cards were made in the previous Raman Singh government, without valid documents like Aadhaar and other certificates as they were not made mandatory.

Apart from this, some joint families projected themselves as nuclear and had multiple cards made in their names.

“There were plenty of instances where members of the same families presented themselves as split-families on papers but they were found to be living together possessing separate ration cards with many non-existent names in it,” said one of the officials.

After doing away with bogus ration cards, the Baghel government has made around 8.46 lakh new PDS cards of all categories from October 2019 to date, Singh added.

Also read: No ‘common issues’ — Chhattisgarh doesn’t want to be in zonal council with Uttarakhand


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