Dying for ration: No health aid for those without PDS cards

A scheme to distribute free ration to 813.5 million beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) is supposed to have come into effect from the New Year. Down To Earth looked at the ground situation of beneficiaries in Jharkhand.

The Public Distribution System (PDS) started in the 1960s to provide food grains at subsidised rates to the people of the country facing a food crisis. PDS was transformed into the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in 2013.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, free ration was given out to the needy under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

PMGKAY has been discontinued and the benefits have been integrated into NFSA from January 2023. But the ground situation in parts of Jharkhand tells a different story about the condition of the recipients. Health treatments under the Ayushman Card are also not

— source downtoearth.org.in | Raju Sajwan | 02 Jan 2023

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Biometric glitches in Rajasthan villages keep the poor hungry

Biometric verification at public distribution system (PDS) shops to prevent theft is causing more trouble than they’re worth for 65-year-old Ghomati Devu. She and her dependents have not received any ration since October 2022.

Devu has lived in Joona Patrasar village, about 24 kilometres from Barmer in Rajasthan, for all her married life. The widow’s red ration card indicates she belongs to an impoverished family, categorising her below-poverty line.

State government guidelines dictate she is eligible for 35 kilogrammes of food grains for herself and an additional 5 kgs for each dependent member. However, before the rations stopped, she would only get around 20 kgs of food grains.

Officially, her two daughters — one 20-year-old and the other five — depend on her. However, the 20 kgs of rations used to be shared between seven members of her family,

— source downtoearth.org.in | Himanshu Nitnaware | 20 Dec 2022

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Dying for ration: 7-year wait for Jharkhand couple to receive PDS benefits

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government recently announced free ration to 813.5 million poor people under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for one year. However, a ground report by Down To Earth looks into whether beneficiaries have received Public Distribution System (PDS) benefits under existing schemes.

DTE visited several areas in the first fortnight of December, including a tribal village in Jharkhand, to know the ground reality.

NFSA was implemented in 2013 and ration was given out at subsidised rates under the Act until now. The free ration was being distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and the new scheme will kick in with the new year.

Anar Devi lives in a village about 1,200 kilometres from the national capital Delhi. Her home is in Sarhua village, Palamu district’s Ramgarh block. Her husband, Sitaram Bhuiyan, owns farmland that is smaller than an acre.

— source downtoearth.org.in | Raju Sajwan | 26 Dec 2022

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Dying for ration: Tonk woman bringing up family on Rs 200 a day not eligible for PDS welfare

A mother of two daughters in Kalandar Basti in Tonk, Rajasthan is grappling with formalities to receive her due welfare under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Left to fend for herself and the kids for not birthing sons, the woman is now running pillar to post to avail free rations.

Mehrunisha has been trying to seek the benefits of free food grains from the Rajasthan state government from 2018. Her village is about 110 kilometres away from the state capital Jaipur.

Her alcoholic husband stopped working around five years ago. Other than putting the burden of financial responsibility on her, he also physically abuses her, she said.

Her only fault? Not giving birth to a boy. “Things went south right after I had my second daughter in 2018. My in-laws and husband started ill-treating me and he stopped bringing home any money,” Mehrunisha told Down To Earth.

She had to find work immediately. “I took up Aari Tari, a traditional handwork of Rajasthan, to earn Rs 200 a day and feed a four-member family.

This was a tough decision for Mehrunisha, a Muslim woman who had to break parada (veil) to earn her bread. “I realised that there would be no food at home unless I started

— source downtoearth.org.in | Himanshu Nitnaware | 22 Dec 2022

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These Barmer widows and orphans are being turned away from PDS shops

A small settlement of about 250 families in Barmer district, Rajasthan, has been devastated due to alcohol consumption. About three-quarters of the women are widows and, despite being impoverished and living below-poverty line, struggle to avail free ration from the government.

The colony is located about 15 kilometres from the city and has lost most of its men to excess consumption of alcohol, leaving their widows vulnerable and children orphans.

The remaining men work as boot polishers, drive public transport vehicles or find other daily wage jobs. However, even these men suffer serious health conditions, like cirrhosis and brittle bones, due to alcohol abuse.

The women mainly work as waste pickers, earning around Rs 200 daily.

Despite living in such conditions, many people from this settlement are being turned away from ration shops despite having valid cards.

— source downtoearth.org.in | Himanshu Nitnaware | 19 Dec 2022

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Fake ration cards or faulty Aadhaar data?

“Why am I not getting my rice from the ration shop?” Mahammad asked the mandal officials gathered at the government school in Thummala for Janmabhoomi, an interactive gathering in January, organised by the state government.

Mahammad’s name had disappeared from his ration card in Thummala village, while his photo had appeared on a ration card in Kurnool city, over 250 kilometres from his home. “Some names are even showing up in places like Vizag [Visakhapatnam, over 800 kilometres away],” the official replied.

So Pathan Mahammad Ali Khan is being denied his rations since October 2016 – after he linked his Aadhaar number to his ration card. Ali, who is 52 and a vegetable vendor, linked his Aadhaar and ration cards soon after the government of Andhra Pradesh made the linking mandatory. Within a few weeks, his problems began at the public distribution system (PDS) ration outlet in Thummala village of Amadagur mandal in Anantapur district.

Whenever a BPL (below poverty line) ration card-holder like Ali goes to the PDS outlet, the shopkeeper asks for the family’s ration card number and punches it into a small

— source ruralindiaonline.org | Rahul M. | Feb. 26, 2018

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When the man knows you, the machine doesn’t

The lane to her house is an upward slope, one which Aadhilakshmi, 72, finds hard to climb after a leg surgery last year. The home in a slum colony in Bhavani Nagar, in the Suddagunte Palya area of south Bengaluru, is a single room that she shares with six other family members.

Aadhilakshmi and her husband Kunnaiah Ram, 83, migrated to Bengaluru around 30 years ago from a village in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, in search of work. While he found a job as a carpenter, she raised their two sons and two daughters.

“Just because I am old does that mean I do not need to eat?” she asks. It’s a question she has repeated an unfortunate number of times in the last six months when she and her husband were denied their rations – seven kilos of free rice per person per month. The subsidised salt, sugar, palm oil and soap they got in addition to the rice, for which they had to pay Rs. 150, has also stopped.

Why was the elderly couple denied their rations? For both, fingerprint authentication failed at the PDS outlet

— source ruralindiaonline.org | Vishaka George | May 1, 2022

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Ration racket: 1,100 fingerprint casts found

In their investigation into stealing of food grains from the public distribution system by fair price shop owners, the cybercrime cell of Ahmedabad police has found more than 1,100 casts of beneficiary fingerprints made on some silicone-like material. The modus operandi used by the racketeers is shocking as a fingerprint cast can be used to endorse any document, open locked apps and mobile phones and bypass bio-metric barriers that depend solely on fingerprints.

In pursuit of the trail they have been following since December 2019, police have till date arrested 40 persons, with the last six arrested since Monday, January 3, said Rajdeepsinh Zala, DCP, cybercell. The mastermind behind the racket, Bharat Chaudhary of Banaskantha, had been arrested last December.

Sources said Chaudhary and his gang held soft copies and associated data of nearly 2,500 fingerprints.

Corrupted fair price shop owners used to provide the fingerprints and data to Chaudhary, who used to take Rs 1,000 to prepare each fingerprint cast from scans. The fingerprint casts were then used to imprint fingerprints of poor people and siphon off their ration from the public distribution system. The food grains and other material were then sold in

— source timesofindia.indiatimes.com | Sarfaraz Shaikh | Feb 6, 2020

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Aadhaar-PDS Link in Jharkhand Led to Exclusions

A new study has backed the claim by activists and media reports that Jharkhand’s decision to link welfare schemes, particularly the public distribution system, with Aadhaar led to genuine beneficiaries being excluded. A sample survey by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab – which counts Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo among its founders – has found that close to 88% of deleted ration cards belonged to genuine households.

Between 2016 and 2018, the state government had been cancelling ration cards of what it calls “ghost beneficiaries” in an attempt to stop “leakages” from the PDS system. According to the J-PAL study by economists Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus and Sandip Sukhtankar, the entire process did reduce some amount of leakage “but also led to non-trivial increase in exclusion error and transaction costs for beneficiaries”.

Requiring Aadhaar to obtain PDS benefits in Jharkhand led to considerable reduction in leakage, but also

— source thewire.in | Jahnavi Sen | 23/02/2020

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