Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday said government employees and owners of tractors and other vehicles must return the BPL (below poverty level) ration cards immediately, failing which stringent legal action would be initiated against them.
The CM issued directions in this regard to officials as he conducted a review meeting of the Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs department on Thursday.
Proper supply of ration must be ensured to eligible beneficiaries and action has to be taken to prevent misuse of the facility by those not eligible, Yediyurappa was quoted as saying by his office in a release.
Nearly 63,000 ration cards were cancelled before the COVID-19 outbreak, he noted and directed officials to initiate a campaign to cancel all illegal ration cards.
"This campaign would help in curtailing the financial burden on the state's reserves," he added.
In the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, both the Central and state governments have distributed sufficient quantities of ration, and about 95% ration card holders have availed the benefit, the release said.
Under the Chief Minister's Anila Bhagya Scheme, 98,079 beneficiaries have been given three gas cylinders free of cost, it added.
However, despite the governmentâ€™s claim, many citizen led srveys have shown that several people in the lower socio-economic class in the state were forced into acute distress during the lockdown.
One detailed survey carried out by Azim Premji University along with the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) and Gauri Media Trust which came out last week, said that 74% of vulnerable households (household income less than Rs 10,000 per month) did not receive any government (central or state) assistance in terms of ration.
However, the sample in that survey was not random or representative of the state but was focussed on casual workers, self-employed persons and migrants across the state.