A survey has shown 90% of the poor in the Capital prefer subsidised food through the public distribution system (PDS) to money transfers even as the Delhi government is conducting the Centre’s first pilot project on handing out cash to 100 families in the Raghubir Nagar locality.
Conducted by the Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyana, a network of 30 organisations working on food security-related issues, the study is based on responses from 4,005 respondents across slums, resettlement colonies and homeless people.
It concludes that frequent policy changes — be it directives on the stamping of below poverty line (BPL) cards or use of biometrics — have happened without making the necessary arrangements, resulting in the poor not getting the entitlements.
The survey findings show 47.6% of the respondents should be eligible for BPL cards, while only 27.5% have them.
“The major problem with the PDS in Delhi is the exclusion errors in the identification of the poor. Also many of them do not have ration cards. A cash transfer scheme cannot solve this problem of identification of the poor,” the report said.
The survey found just 27% of the respondents were aware of the cash transfer experiment and that 90% of them felt that “reforming” the PDS was a better option.
The survey also revealed the "arbitrary manner" in which BPL cards had been issued. According to it, 31.5% of daily wage earners and 22.9% of salaried households had BPL cards, while a large number of the self-employed had none.
The report reads: “The most vulnerable seem to have been left out of the BPL net. This is both because of mistakes in identification and also insufficiency of the numbers of BPL cards based on poverty line quotas.”