Ration card bungling: BJP to protest in every village

Bhubaneswar: The BJP on Wednesday said it would stage protests in each village in Odisha against the massive irregularities in the distribution of ration cards.

Announcing this at a press meet at the party office here, senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said there is no provision for withdrawal of ration cards under National Food Security Act (NFSA). The window provided by the Odisha government for withdrawal of ration card is grossly illegal, he said.

He said there have been scores of allegations against MLAs, Mayors and civic body chairpersons about illegal possession of ration cards. After the allegations, they have announced to withdraw their ration cards.

“As per the NFSA, there are only provisions for inclusion and exclusion in which the government would decide the inclusion and exclusion of the beneficiary as per the eligibility norms laid down in the NFSA. Besides, legal action would be initiated against the beneficiary if he/she has fraudulently acquired the ration card. But those, including the political leaders, who have illegally got the ration cards in their name, are now saying that they would return the cards, which is utterly ridiculous as there is no such provision in NFSA,” Mohapatra claimed.

He also maintained that the advertisement recently released by the state government in several newspapers asking the ineligible beneficiaries to return their ration cards within 15 days, is also illegal.

“Under which provision of the law did the state government come up with this advertisement? The state government has no right to release such an advertisement. Either the Chief Minister, the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare secretary or the concerned minister is responsible for such wrongful act. Case should be registered against the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare secretary as he has gone against the rule,” Mohapatra pointed out.

The BJP leader also alleged that the state government had violated the rules for its own benefit by changing the provisions of the Act three times since the beginning of the implementation of NFSA in the state

“The state government had implemented NFSA in the state in two phases. In the first phase, the Act was implemented in 14 districts on October 2 and in the remaining 16 districts in the second phase on October 26 last year. Prior to the implementation of the Act, the state government was to frame rules for deletion of names of the ineligible beneficiaries from the ration card list by November 28 as per the provisions of the Act. However, the chief minister formally launched the scheme in gross violation of the rules. As a result, his ministers are now being humiliated and insulted by the people from panchayat to block level across the state. While the poor and deserving beneficiaries are deprived of ration cards, influential persons having links with the BJD have got cards in their names through gross misutlisation of power and authority,” the BJP[ leader noted.

He said as per the NFSA provisions, the state government must constitute a vigilance committee and a food commission to allow the beneficiaries to have their grievances redressed. “As the government has not yet formed the committee and the commission, the beneficiaries have no scope to lodge their complaints,” he said.

Referring to the decsion of the government to take action against the government employees for violation of the rules of the Act, Mohapatra wanted to know why the government had not ordered to take action against the leaders of the ruling party who are also involved in the irregularities.

“We will take up the issue in each village of the state and apprise the poor beneficiaries of the modus operandi of the government on the issue of ration cards,” he informed.

Reacting to the statement of the BJP leader, BJD spokesperson Sashi Bhusan Behera said the stand of the state government on ration card issue is transparent as it has started the process of elimination of ineligible beneficiaries from the list.

Criticising the BJP, he said “Let the saffron party decide whether it wants to make the issue more complex or it wants the deserving beneficiaries to get the desired benefits.”