NFSA goof-up: 1420 ration cards cancelled in Balasore dist

Bhubaneswar: In a face saving measure, the Odisha government, already hit by a major ration card scam in the State, cancelled ration cards of 1420 ineligible persons in Balasore district on Friday. With the number of ineligible persons in the NFSA beneficiary list is reportedly rising in other districts also, the respective administrations are likely to follow suit, officials said.

Yesterday, the Balasore district administration had cancelled 538 rations cards which, after verification, were found to have been issued to ineligible persons. Today the figure rose to 1420 after discrepancies were noticed in the distribution system, an official stated.

“These cards were distributed among beneficiaries spanning across 12 Blocks of the district,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government, in a move aimed at avoiding the kind of embarassment it faced after Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) mayor Anita Behera had to resign in disgrace following revelations about her name figuring in the list, has given all ineligible beneficiaries 15 days’ time to withdraw voluntarily from the NFSA list.

According to sources, since the list of ineligible persons is out in the public domain, undeserving people seeking benefits under the scheme can easily be caught because of public and media scrutiny. “The move will result in auto correction in the list of names across the State, yielding an accurate list,” the sources said.

On the other hand, incensed over the ration card controversy, a classic case of the rich enjoying benefits meant for the poor, irate people hit the roads in some parts of the State. The villagers of Manigaon under Patrapada grampanchayat in Muniguda Block of Rayagada district on Friday locked up the GP office protesting the irregularities in the enlsiting of beneficiaries.

Similarly a mass rally and a demonstration was organised in Keonjhar protesting the inclusion of zilla parisad vice-chairman Jagannath Singh’s name in the beneficiary list. In Suliapada Block of Mayurbhanj district, an irate mob burnt the effigy of district administration officials to vent their ire.

The government has distributed digitized ration cards to 95 lakh households covering around 3.26 crore people, around 78% of the state’s 4.2 crore population.