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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Screening of genuine beneficiaries for atta-dal scheme a herculean task

Harpreet Kaur, Hindustan Times  Hoshiarpur, December 24, 2013
First Published: 20:59 IST(24/12/2013) | Last Updated: 21:00 IST(24/12/2013)

Screening of genuine beneficiaries for the new atta-dal scheme is proving to be a herculean task for the district administration.

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Scrutiny of applications and verification of the details submitted in the self-assessment clause was started on December 16 and it has to be completed by December 30 as the government wants to start distribution of subsidised ration to the new beneficiaries by January 26.

A list of all eligible beneficiaries will be notified on December 31.On many counts, the field staff has been facing problems in verifying the authenticity of the self-declaration.

As per the conditions laid down by the government, families with annual income less than Rs. 60,000 and land less than 2.5 acres and 100-yard plot holders in urban areas would be eligible to new blue cards.

Pensioners receiving annual pension less than Rs. 60,000 would 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.

With very little time left for the parliamentary elections, the ruling coalition parties are trying to get as many people enrolled for the scheme as possible.

Municipal councillors  (now former) and panches and sarpanches are stated to have got the photo copies of the forms distributed in abundance in their respective wards.

The hassle-free process, which saw lakhs applying for the cards, is coming in the way of verification.
The government has not asked for any document in black and white from the applicants in support of their claims. A simple form is what they had to submit.

Sources said that it is very difficult for the field staff to verify the income and land holding details of a large number of applicants in such a short time with limited resources.

The onus lies on deputy commissioners and sub-divisional magistrates to get the job done in a fair and time-bound manner.

From the exercise undertaken so far, it has emerged that most of the applicants own cell phones, two-wheelers, televisions and some even tractors.

"With a meagre monthly income of just Rs. 5,000, which they claim in their self-declaration form, how are they managing motor vehicles and electronic gadgets which run on expensive fuel and electricity?," wondered an employee.

One of the officials was stunned to see an applicant living in a two-storied bungalow.

When asked, he said it was his father's property whereas he lived in a rented accommodation. About the car parked in the porch, he said it belonged to an acquaintance.

Revealing that many applicants had pasted their passport size photos on the forms which otherwise were not required, he said most of them appeared to be from well-to-do families. Some have their kin settled in foreign countries while some are in government jobs.

Sources said there were chances of ineligible people getting the benefit as it is hard to detect properties owned by the applicants in places other than their permanent addresses as given in the forms.

As women are designated as the head of the family in the application forms, names of their husbands only are mentioned and that is not sufficient to dig out revenue details.

Each sub-division is flooded with applications ranging from 25,000 to 70,000, verification of which is an uphill task. It is unlikely that the government would proceed against the people having furnished wrong information but a single wrong verification can cost the official concerned dear.

Although, the people who are already benefitting from the old atta-dal scheme need not apply, but many have again submitted their forms.

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