‘Millionaires taking benefit of food security scheme for BPL families’
Officials of the administration and even the member of the Punjab State Food Commission (PSFC) Gursandeep Singh Grewal were taken aback when brigadier (retd) Indermohan Singh, a guardian of governance (GoG), Hassanpur village near Ludhiana, and some others alleged that millionaires were taking benefit of the food security scheme meant for below poverty line (BPL) families.
During an event held at the Guru Nanak Bhawan here on Tuesday for generating awareness on different schemes under the National Food Security Act, on Tuesday, around 500 GoGs shared their problems with Grewal.
Indermohan Singh said GoGs were appointed by the state government as ‘eyes and ears’ of the government but, sadly, they have to close their eyes and ears to the malpractices of various schemes that GoGs were monitoring.
He suggested that under the Food Security Act, the annual income of a family should be less than ₹60,000 per year to be enrolled under the scheme.
“According to the state data, over 35 lakh families, comprising nearly 1.4 crore population, which is over 50% of Punjab's population, is below this threshold. It is not possible. If a thorough investigation is carried out, not even 10% of the people taking benefit of the scheme will be found eligible,” he said, adding that approximately ₹1,400 crore is spent on this scheme every year.
He added he conducted a survey at Hassanpur village, where there are about 1,332 beneficiaries under the Atta- Dal scheme. “I found over 1,000 ineligible beneficiaries even after giving a benefit of doubt to a large number of people. If it is rechecked, only about 150 will remain to be eligible. This will save lakhs of rupees every month in a village with a population of about 2,300,” he said.
Meanwhile, other GoGs also highlighted several issues. Captain (retired) Amrik Singh, GoG, Umaidpur and Tibba villages, said, “Store holders are distributing wheat from their own houses, no member of the supervisory committee is present at the time of distribution and GoGs are not informed about the distribution of wheat.”
He added, “Besides, pilfering of weighing machines, selling of empty wheat bags at ₹3 per bag or taking empty bags back from beneficiaries, which are actually free of cost for beneficiaries and misuse of biometric metres while issuing the receipts are some other issues being reported by various GoGs.”
Grewal asked the GoGs to report their complaints to the ADC (development) and asked the ADC for ensuring proper redressal of the complaints. Replying to a query of the Brigadier, he said that this scheme was run by the Union government, so he should write a letter to the central government for the same.