In a positive development when it comes to pilferage of public resources, reports have claimed that total digitisation and Aadhaar linkage of ration cards has helped identify a whopping 2.75 crore bogus ones. All these bogus ration cards were potentially used to avail highly subsidised food grains. As per food ministry officials, the digitisation of ration cards started back in January 2013 but gained momentum in the past four years.
Ram Vilas Paswan, the food and consumer affairs minister was quoted as saying that the government has plugged the leakages in subsidised wheat, rice and coarse grains, which was costing a whopping Rs 17,500 crores annually. The savings though doesn’t result in monetary gain as the benefits are now being transferred to the real beneficiaries.
The states which contributed the most to these 2.75 crore fake ration cards were Uttar Pradesh with about 68.80 lakhs, West Bengal with 66.13 lakhs, Karnataka with 27.49 lakhs, Maharashtra with 21.62 lakhs and Telangana with 20.97 lakhs. Other states having large bogus ration cards include Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
In total, about 23.19 ration cards have been issued under National Food Security Act, all of which as per the report have been digitised. The Aadhaar linkage of these ration cards though stands at about 82%.
A couple of days back, CR Chaudhary, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had made a similar claim regarding ration cards. Minister Chaudhary incidentally claimed that 2.95 crore fake and duplicate ration cards were cancelled in three years of the Modi government.
Such an action against fake availing of public benefits was also noted in case of the mid-day meal scheme.
We had reported in March that the HRD ministry’s decision to make Aadhar card mandatory to avail mid-day meals had reportedly exposed a whopping 4.4 lakh fake students who only existed on paper in the three states of Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Jharkhand.