DELHI:EROS TIMES: Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal has taken strong exception to the decision of the Food Commissioner to go ahead with the cancellation of around 2.93 lakh ration cards without any valid and justified reason, despite strong objections by the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Imran Hussain.
This act of defiance appears to be a conspiracy to deny ration to the poor people and is a clear, deliberate and intentional violation at the behest of the Central government.
Since these officers do not report to the elected government, therefore they are working against the interests of the people of Delhi, which is a very serious matter.
The Department officers have failed to appreciate the adverse social impact of cancellation of 2.93 lakh odd ration cards covering more than 10 lakh beneficiaries. All such families and members in one go would be rendered hungry because of the insensitive, apathetic, hostile, inhuman attitude of the officers.
It would cause tremendous hardship and could also prove to be fatal to human lives, a situation which no responsible government can afford to occur.
The recent episode of unfortunate death of three children in Mandawali due to hunger/ non-availability of food is a case in point. It is apprehended that due to illegal cancellation of ration cards without following due process of law by the officers of the Department, such incidents occurring in other parts of Delhi cannot be ruled out for which the Food Commissioner would be personally & solely responsible.
People were unable to avail their entitled ration for the following two reasons:-
Due to huge problem of Internet Connectivity in several parts of Delhi e-POS machines were working only intermittently. So, when a beneficiary went to pick up ration from a particular shop and found that the machine was not working, that beneficiary came back without availing his ration. Sometimes, beneficiary did not go to the shop again. Or even when he approached the shop again, the machine may not have been working again due to bad connectivity.
In many cases, it has been reported that there was a problem in biometric verification due to soiled hands or other reasons, due to which, many beneficiaries were denied ration. Such problems are being reported from many parts of the country. Few of them reportedly sent their other family members subsequently for availing ration. However, in many cases, the beneficiaries simply gave up after the first visit.
It is important to note that despite of the Food Minister having sought details of ration card holders and beneficiaries whose names were intended to be deleted in his note dated 26th July, no information and details have been provided to him till date. Instead the officers are proceeding with the cancellation of the ration cards in utter defiance of the minister’s repeated directions.
What was required to be done was that a verification exercise should have first been undertaken of those ration card holders who did not turn up during the first three months of this year – January to March 2018. If during such verification, any card was not found to be genuine, only then the card should have been cancelled after giving an opportunity to the card holder to explain his position, according to rules and existing laws.
It is shocking that the cancellation process is being done without carrying out exercise of door-to-door verification of ration card beneficiaries, their genuineness etc.
On a number of occasions, the minister apprised the officers of Food Department about the deep–rooted rot in the public distribution system. There are regular complaints from general public about non-opening of FPSs regularly by the FPS owners, opening FPSs only for one or two days in a month, misbehavior by FPS owners with women in distribution of ration, distribution of less quantity of SFAs, diversion of SFAs, non-distribution of entitled SFAs in one go, non-display of mandatory information on the display board by FPS owners etc., with apparent connivance of field staff/officers and senior officers of the department.
In spite of complaints of serious nature as mentioned above having been forwarded, officers neither reverted back with action taken reports nor took any corrective steps. Wherever they reverted back, the action taken reports have been found to be sketchy, incomplete, misleading or indicating imposition of lenient penalties on the erring FPS owners. Thus, such action taken reports indicate active connivance and patronage by the senior officers of the Department.
It has been been informed that the cancellation process has been undertaken without door-to –door survey of households. The cancellation is being done by officers sitting in their offices without any field inspection and without following due process of law. Such acts of commission or omission make the acts of public servants suspicious. Their conduct may invite disciplinary action against the concerned officers.