It was a little more than a year ago that the Wayanad district administration in Kerala launched a campaign to ensure all tribal people in the district have basic government documents. The programme, which began in November last year, has now covered all three municipalities and 23 panchayats in the district, and provided 1,42,563 services to 64,670 tribal beneficiaries. The district administration claims that Wayanad is the first district in the country to achieve such a milestone. According to the 2001 census of India, Wayanad has the highest tribal population in the state.
The documents and services provided as part of the Akshaya Big Campaign for Document Digitisation (ABCD) campaign include Aadhaar cards, ration cards, election ID cards, bank accounts, birth and death certificates, and health insurance. The campaign was first launched on a pilot basis at the Thondernad grama panchayat. â€śThe programme was carried out with team spirit, in association with the Local Self Government Department (LSGD). The data (on the people who did not have documents) was collected through the Scheduled Tribes (ST) Department. The people's representatives at the local level as well as ST promoters took initiative to bring the beneficiaries to the camp,â€ť Wayanad Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Shaju M told TNM.
Officials from the other departments concerned, who had to provide the details required to avail the documents, were also made to work at the same camp. From the initial procedures to the final printing and lamination of the documents, everything was done at the same camp. Food was provided for the beneficiaries as well. Vehicles were also arranged under the panchayats concerned and the ST Department for the beneficiaries to commute to the camp.
â€śMany beneficiaries did not have the documents needed to apply for another document. For instance, some did not have a ration card to apply for an Aadhaar card. Not all of them could commute to offices to apply for these documents. Some were not even aware of their importance. But they were willing to come to the camp because the processing of all basic documents was happening at a single spot. Now on, lack of documents wonâ€™t be a hindrance for tribal people to avail the benefits of government welfare schemes,â€ť the ADM said.
Under ABCD, Aadhaar card was the first document to be provided for a tribal person without any document. â€śIf a person does not have a ration card, a certificate stating the same would be issued at the camp by the ward member and the ST promoter. The application would then be submitted to the Civil Supplies Officer, who is also present there. If a person with an Aadhaar card does not have a bank account, they would be guided to the banking section of the camp. Those whose health insurance was discontinued would be provided with the details to resume it. Similarly, those who need a birth certificate would be provided with the details for that, if they were born in a hospital. It would usually take a day to fill up a form and another for attestation. Ration cards were usually issued within a day at the camp, while it took only minimum processing time for other documents,â€ť said Albin Thomas, committed social worker of the ST Department, who is in charge of the campaign at the Nenmeni grama panchayat and Sulthan Bathery municipality.