The new ‘rice cards’ for PDS, which replace the ration cards, will be delinked from other welfare schemes like Aarogyasri and fee reimbursement.

Andhra starts replacing ration cards with separate cards for each govt scheme TDP opposes move
news Welfare Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 19:13

Andhra Pradesh government has begun the process of issuing ‘rice cards’, replacing the existing ration cards which act as proof of eligibility for receiving subsidised food supplies under the Public Distribution System (PDS). Minister for Civil Supplies Kodali Venkateswara Rao (Nani) launched the distribution for Krishna district in Vijayawada on Saturday. 

The YSRCP government began its process of identifying beneficiaries of various government schemes in November under a program called YSR Navasakam. Following household surveys by village and ward volunteers, beneficiaries were identified for existing schemes like PDS, as well as various flagship schemes of the Jagan government, some of which are new while others are modified and renamed versions of existing schemes. 

Ration cards were being used not only for PDS, but also for availing other government benefits and schemes meant for the poor. The white ration card was considered as proof of income being below the poverty line, and welfare schemes were accordingly carried out. The YSRCP government is now replacing ration cards with ‘rice cards’, and various other cards for each individual scheme, like YSR Aarogyasri, Jagananna Amma Vodi, YSR Sunna Vaddi (zero-interest loans), YSR Kapu Nestham, YSR Pension Kanuka and fee reimbursement, among others. The ‘rice cards’, which are replacing the ration cards, will essentially delink the food security cards from other government schemes, an official of the Food and Civil Supplies department said. 

In the case of ration cards, a total of nearly 1,29,00,000 beneficiaries were found eligible for the new rice cards, as opposed to a total of 1,47,00,000 ration card holders in the past. This means the number of beneficiaries of the PDS has fallen by nearly 18 lakh. Members of the opposition from the Telugu Desam Party have objected to this, accusing the YSRCP government of cancelling lakhs of ration cards and depriving the beneficiaries of food security. 

The government in a statement has claimed that the 18 lakh cards were examined as the addresses were not found. Of these, 2 lakh cards were found to be missing, the statement said. It claimed that another 8 lakh beneficiaries surrendered their ration cards voluntarily, when assured that they would be eligible for the Aarogyasri and Fees Reimbursement schemes. The government is yet to verify the claims of another 6 lakh people who have said that their cards have been cancelled despite being eligible for PDS. 

Refuting reports that the cancelled cards were earlier being used by ration dealers to divert food grains and make profits by reselling them, an official told TNM that the drop in beneficiaries is a result of door to door verification and social audits. “Under YSR Navasakam, door to door verification was done for existing ration card holders. After that, a 6-step social audit has been conducted to look into factors like, whether they own a car, whether their electricity consumption is above 300 units, whether they own more than 10 acres of land, etc.,” the official said, adding that the final list of beneficiaries has been made open to public for identifying discrepancies, and such cases will be verified.

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