Allaying the fear arising in the minds of people due the media reports that Department of Food and Civil Supplies has annulled all the blue cards, Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Food Supply Minister Punjab has informed that “only the cards have been annulled and not the beneficiaries”.
He informed that due to the Automation and End to End Computerization of the food grain distribution process, all the existing cards have been annulled and new Smart Cards would be issued to the eligible beneficiaries.
He informed that food grain distribution is carried out by the department twice a year (six monthly cycles) in the month of March and September. He said that food grains are already being distributed in the March cycle on the old cards but in the September cycle it would be issued on Smart Ration Cards.
He said that these smart cards are chip enabled with complete details of identification data of the beneficiary secured in the chip. Hence, the Smart Ration Card holder beneficiaries need not carry identification proofs like Aadhar etc. to the Fair Price Shop in order to collect their share of food grains. Besides this convenience being extended to the beneficiaries, the range of people to be covered under distribution of subsidized ration has been extended.
Giving details Food Supply Minister said that earlier the BPL beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana and the other economically weaker beneficiaries identified under State notified norms were being covered under National Food Security Act.
But going a step further, now the State government will not only include all the marginal categories of people belonging to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) but also the families of those suffering from leprosy, acid attack and HIV/AIDS.
The beneficiaries of Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojana (MGSVY), landless farm laborers, ex-servicemen having annual income up to Rs. 60,000/-p.a. (excluding pension), old age pensioners provided their income from all sources does not exceed Rs.60000/- and have no family member to support them, all households headed by a widow or a single woman (unmarried/separated/deserted), beneficiaries of homeless or kucha households etc. are also to be covered under the Smart Ration Card scheme.
Sharing details of the re-verification of the beneficiaries ordered by the department, the Minister said that a constant verification/ re-verification is the mandate of National Food security act 2013.
It is a dynamic exercise to add/ delete eligible/ ineligible persons. So, the re-verification will ensure inclusion of all genuine beneficiaries and elimination of the non genuine ones.
Giving further details he said that number of families/beneficiaries as mandated/allowed by Government of India to Punjab are 14145000 i.e approximately 35.36 lakh families @4 members per family bifurcating as 54.7% of rural population 44.8% of urban population (as per 2011 census).
Against this, at present number of families covered right now are 35.33 lac families having approximately 13700003 beneficiaries. So, efforts are afoot to cover more eligible beneficiaries under the NFSA Act.
Appealing the people not to get panicky by the annulment of the cards, Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that the computerization process it for the betterment of the beneficiaries and will go a long way into elimination of bogus beneficiaries and plugging the diversion of food grains.