Srinagar: The Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) Department has issued a stern warning to the economically sound individuals including government officials and pensioners holding Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards in Kashmir, telling them to give up their cards or face consequences.
During the re-verification of ration cards, FCS&CA officials discovered that many ineligible households had Priority Household (PHH) ration cards also known as BPL, which allowed them to receive highly subsided ration supplies in violation of the law and siphon money for the State exchequer.
The PHH ration cards allow the bearer to buy up to 5 kg of food grains per family member each month at discounted costs. PHH ration card holders can purchase rice at Rs 3 per kg, wheat for Rs 2 per kg, and coarse grains for Rs 1 per kg.
PDS in Jammu and Kashmir presently provides coverage to 24.92 lakh households and 97.53 lakh beneficiaries. Of these 14,33,024 PHH ration card holders comprise 57,29,395 beneficiaries.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Director FS&CA Kashmir, Riyaz Ahmad said, “We have issued an ultimatum to government employees, pensioners, and economically sound persons who have PHH ration cards to surrender them at the earliest opportunity or else we will take strong action against them.”
The director responded when questioned about the action that would be taken against them: “We will recover the cost of subsidy they have received by getting food grains at a nominal price and also blacklist them,” he said.
According to a top FCS&CA officer, several complaints have been made alleging that BPL ration cards had been obtained by even government employees earning good salaries.
“During our verification last month, we discovered a family that had received a BPL ration card even though all three of the family’s sons worked for the government and that the family’s head – their father, was a pensioner. It is not a one-off case. Thousands of such instances with the ineligible persons having BPL ration cards,” he said.
The FCS&CA Department in J&K has asked the authorities to weed out AAY, PHH, and BPL ration card holders who have been ineligible beneficiaries for the last two years through several directives and circulars.
Officials said that to bring transparency, the administration changed 6413 out of 6735 Point-of-Sale (PoS) devices to online status to improve the distribution process and increase accountability. In addition, 322 PoS devices were switched to offline mode, especially to serve locations with spotty internet access.
This technologically advanced strategy has not only sped up the distribution process but also cut down on the possibility of fraud and assured real-time monitoring.
“Since over 94 percent of PDS transactions are now completed online, Aadhaar authentication is now required for recipients to get their benefits. In addition to reducing the need for human interaction, this method has given the beneficiaries more control and convenience. Additionally, the authentication method has made it simpler to follow the movement of food grains, resulting in effective stock management,” the officer said.