Bhubaneswar: Shocking but true! Ration under the Public Distribution System (PDS) was being distributed to nearly 19 lakh ghost or ineligible beneficiaries for years in Odisha. This shocking data emerged after the completion of the deadline of Aadhaar seeding of ration cards in the State.
The Food and Civil Supplies Department has categorically stated that the beneficiaries whose Aadhaar card has not yet been seeded will not get PDS rice henceforth. However, the poor & the elderly and beneficiaries in inaccessible regions, who are yet to seed their Aadhaar with ration cards, will be entitled to get benefits of the scheme.
“The left out beneficiaries are now in suspected list. We will give opportunity to old and other persons provided they are genuine beneficiaries,” said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister, Ranendra Pratap Swain.
The State government has entrusted market intelligence officials to identify such left out beneficiaries. Only after the completion of the identification process, the exact number of fake or ineligible beneficiaries can be ascertained, informed sources.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Centre identified nearly 3.16 crore beneficiaries in the State to be covered under NFSA. In a bid to enroll and extend benefits to more beneficiaries, Odisha government launched its own Food Security Act just ahead of 2019 elections.
Under its own Food Security Act, Odisha government enrolled 25 lakh additional beneficiaries. It is alleged that the State government, after seeding of Aadhaar, has now included those additional beneficiaries of its own food security act in the Central scheme as well. It is said that such s move is intended to reduce the State’s financial burden.
“Bogus cards have been issued in the State. The cards were only issued only to help ruling party’s men. Action should be taken against those who took PDS rice and those who provided the card,” said Congress MLA Suresh Routray.
BJP MLA Pradip Purohit said, “More than one card has been issued to beneficiaries. State government needs to take action against the officers who issued ration cards to bogus beneficiaries.”
Responding to the allegations of opposition members, BJD MLA Aravinda Dhali said, “The allegations that state government did this to buy votes are baseless. The scheme was introduced for the welfare of people and the issues will be rectified.”