As many as 1.29 crore ration cards were deleted or cancelled by various states and union territories during the last three years with Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra topping the list. The government also acted under the relevant clauses against approximately 20,000 fair price shops (FPS).
A total of 93,78,789 ration cards were cancelled or deleted in Uttar Pradesh in 2018 (43,72,491), 2019 (41,52,273) and 2020 (8,54,025) while in Maharashtra as many as 20,37,947 ration cards were cancelled or deleted with 12,81,922 in 2018, 6,53,677 in 2019 and 1,02,348 in 2020, Minister of State for Ministry of Rural Development and Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Next in line to cancel and delete the ration cards were Madhya Pradesh (3,54,535), followed by Haryana (2,91,926), Punjab (2,87,474), Delhi (2,57,886) and Assam (1,70,057). The governments found it easy to weed out these many ration cards after action under NFSA Aadhaar seeding of ration cards ensured uniqueness of beneficiaries in Public Distribution System (PDS), avoiding duplicate/bogus ration cards/beneficiaries.
"So far, more than 92 per cent ration cards (at least one member of the household) have been Aadhaar seeded at the national level," the Minister told in reply to a question by MP Nitesh Ganga Deb.
Answering another question with a written reply, the Minister informed that an offence committed in violation of the provisions of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) (Control) Order, 2015 is liable for penal action under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Thus, the order empowers all State/UT governments to take punitive actions in case of contravention of the relevant provisions of the Order.
"During the last three years from 2018 to 2020 and current year up to June 30, a total of 19,410 actions such as FPS licenses suspended/ cancelled/ show-cause notices issued/ FIRs lodged by States/ UTs were taken," she said.
Of the total states that did take this action, Uttar Pradesh topped with 13,905 followed by Kerala at 3,139.
The TPDS is operated under the joint responsibilities of the Central and the state/UT governments, wherein the operational responsibilities, such as identification of beneficiaries/ households under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), issuance of ration cards to them, allocation of food grains to all Fair Price Shops (FPSs), distribution to beneficiaries, licensing and monitoring of FPSs, grievance redressal of beneficiaries including irregularities/ diversion/ corruption in TPDS operations, etc. lies with the state/UT government concerned.