A special drive conducted by the food and civil supplies department has revealed that a staggering 42.20 lakh bogus ration cards are in circulation in Maharashtra. Even more startling is that the loss from 49,253 such bogus ration cards in just one tehsil in Solapur district amounts to Rs 189.40 crore in the last 12 years for just two commodities - wheat and rice.
The Solapur unit of Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan, floated by activist Anna Hazare, has submitted statistics obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) act before the Bombay high court. President of the district unit, Liyakat Ali Shaikh, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) raising concerns about the bogus ration cards.
Shaikh's counsel, advocate Ashish Gaikwad has, through a rejoinder filed recently, annexed a report submitted by the assistant district food supply officer, Solapur, to his superior, stating that the special drive revealed 49,253 bogus ration cards in circulation in Barshi tehsil alone.
The report states that it was necessary to recover the amount of Rs189.40 crore from people and organisations running 201 fair-price shops in Barshi tehsil.
Going by Barshi's figures, the amount of fraud purportedly committed across Maharashtra because of 42.20 lakh bogus ration cards would be to close to Rs 16,500 crore. Shaikh has, however, pegged his estimate at Rs 25,000 crore because of the non-inclusion of sugar and kerosene.
Shaikh's affidavit has also included an RTI reply stating the special drive had revealed that there were 42.20 lakh bogus ration cards in circulation in Maharashtra, and 29.48 lakh were cancelled on March 31, 2008, when its first phase ended.
Urban areas of Mumbai and Thane topped the list with 6.50 lakh bogus ration cards cancelled at the end of the first phase.
Further, more than three lakh bogus ration cards were found in this area during the second phase, which ended in May 2010.
Shaikh has asked the state government to initiate action against concerned officials from food and civil supplies department and those running the fair price shops, who have obviously sold essential commodities received on the basis of bogus rations cards in the open market. He has also sought recovery of the defrauded amount from the officials and fair price shop owners. The PIL is scheduled for hearing on July 7.