The Punjab government's new Atta Dal scheme -- merged with the National Food Security Act -- opened to a good response in districts of the state even as complaints of some making a quick buck outside SDM offices and suvidha kendras by "selling" free-of-cost forms came in from some areas.
There were also complaints of suvidha centres demanding separate self-declarations on income, land and non-tax payer signed by notaries or municipal officers.
While the Punjab food and civil supply department advertisements issued this week said the newspaper cutting of the advertisement could be used to apply for new blue cards and free-of-cost forms could also be collected from the SDM office or suvidha kendras, in Fazilka district some complained that the application forms were selling for Rs. 15.
While the form contains a self-declaration by the applicant on the various exclusion/inclusion criteria, some said they had to submit a file of documents. "We paid Rs. 15 for the form and paid the notary for three self-declarations. The SDM office and suvidha kendras did not accept the forms without self-declaration on each and every exclusion/inclusion criteria attested by a notary," Sandeep Kumar, a Fazilka resident said. The BJP was quick to put up a camp in the area to help distressed applicants.
Meanwhile, the government in a press note on Friday gave a detailed timeline for the roll-out of the revamped scheme in two phases. An official spokesperson of the government said the beneficiaries had to just fill the form and verification of the criteria will be started in the second half of December.
The existing nearly 16 lakh families with blue cards will start getting their supply of wheat at Re 1 per kg from December 1 along with pulses at Rs. 20 per kg, new blue cards will be distributed to another 15 lakh families by January 26 for availing subsidised rations.
Forms for the new Atta Dal scheme will be verified from December 16 to 30, and list of all eligible beneficiaries will be notified on December 31. Objections will be accepted from January 1 to 10, 2014, and disposed of from January 13 to 20. The final list will be released by January 24
Families having an annual income less than Rs. 60,000 and cultivable land less than 2.5 acres (rural) and all 100-yard plot-holders in urban areas are eligible for new blue cards. Pensioners receiving an annual pension less than Rs. 60,000 will also be eligible for blue cards. Beneficiaries have to submit a self-attested statement that they are not paying any type of tax to the government.