Jharkhand to plug leakages to secure food Act benefits

  • Sanjoy Dey, Hindustan Times, Ranchi
  • Updated: Dec 21, 2015 16:03 IST
People purchase food grains distributed by a public distribution system shop in Ranchi on Sunday. (Diwakar Prasad/HT photo)

To make the implementation of the Food Security Act successful, the state government will computerise the public distribution system, stamp out fake ration cards and link Aadhaar cards to the delivery of benefits.

“The public distribution system is being computerised. By June next year, Aadhaar-enabled ration distribution system will be started to eliminate leakages in the public distribution system,” food and public distribution secretary Vinay Kumar Choubey said on Sunday, a day before a proposed debate on food security in the assembly.

Jharkhand rolled out the National Food Security Act (NFSA) on October 1, entitling 2.33 crore people of the state’s 3.29 crore population to 5 kg rice and wheat every month at a subsidised rate of `1.

Thousands of fake ration cards were issued with the food and public distribution department digitising cards in a haste to launch the scheme. Hindustan Times had exposed a large-scale distribution of fake ration cards in the state in a report published on November 28.

The department has asked ineligible beneficiaries to withdraw their names from the scheme by December 31 or face action.

“We have so far detected 80,000 duplicate ration cards. Grain distribution against the cards has been stopped,” Choubey said, admitting that return of ration cards by ineligible beneficiaries has been poor. “We will take action if such beneficiaries were detected after December 31.”

The department has issued more than 1.65 lakh ration cards for a beneficiary of a family. Their family members are not included in the ration card list. “We will add names of their families by December 31,” Choubey said.

After the success of the electronic supply chain management in Ranchi, it is being extended to other districts. Procurement order for 300 weighing machines in state godowns has been given, he said. “Very soon, the beneficiaries will get SMS on grain supply from godowns to PDS shops,” Choubey said.

The department has started seeding Aadhaar numbers with ration cards to end duplicity. “Over 2 crore Aadhaar numbers have been collected and 90 lakh have been linked with ration cards. By June 2016, beneficiaries will be distributed food grain through Aadhaar-based biometric hand-held devices in PDS shops,” he said.

Kerosene distribution will soon be linked with direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme. “We have sent a proposal to the Centre to start DBT in kerosene as a pilot project in five districts — Hazaribagh, Giridih, Chatra, Khunti and Jamtara. After the Centre’s approval, we will deposit the price of kerosene directly to bank accounts of beneficiaries,” Choubey said.

He said the government would felicitate a man and a woman with a cash prize of `25,000 for their contribution to consumer projection awareness. The best organisation for creating awareness will be given a cash prize of `50,000.

People’s suggestions

People’s associations on Sunday discussed loopholes in the implementation of the food act and suggested measures to plug them. They suggested that the government chart out short- and long-term strategies to deal with drought.

Speakers told the government to distribute pulses and edible oil keeping in view malnutrition among children. The government was told to encourage sowing of locally available paddy seeds, procure locally produced paddy and distribute it through PDS shops.

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