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.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
‘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.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.