The Capital has more people listed on ration cards than its population, government data has revealed, highlighting the irregularities that plague the PDS system.
According to the 2011 census, the city’s population is 16.8 million. But government statistics say 18 million persons have their names on ration cards in the city, which is gearing up to launch the food security law from August 20, a few months ahead of the assembly elections due year-end.
To weed out bogus claims, the food and supplies department has made Aadhar (unique identification number) compulsory for all households entitled to subsidised food – a legal right under the food law.
Citing rampant corruption and leakages in the public distribution system (PDS), the food law critics have often expressed doubts over benefits reaching the people they are meant for.
“We have 1.8 crore names in our database for ration cards as on August 1. One of the major reasons for this high number is possible duplication,” said SS Yadav, commissioner, food, supplies and consumer affairs, Delhi government.
Even the 2011 Economic Survey of Delhi says the city has 33.4 lakh households and 32.26 lakh ration cards. "It is suprising that the number of households and ration cards issued are roughly the same. Most families who are now above the poverty line, don't get ration cards made because they don't get subsidised ration,” said Ritu Mehra of Pardarshita, a voluntary group working on social welfare schemes.
In 2008, it was revealed that more than 1.7 lakh bogus ration cards were issued in Delhi. To prevent a repeat, Aadhar numbers will be used to identify around 72 lakh food law beneficiaries.
“All members of a household will have to get enrolled under Aadhar,” said a Delhi government official. As the Aadhar number is unique to an individual, there is little chance of duplication even if a beneficiary moves residence.
The beneficiaries will also be handed over food security cards, the official said. Under the scheme, rice will be available at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg and coarse cereals at Rs 1 per kg.