Skip to main content

97% don't want Direct Bank Transfer for food from ration shop, 25% didn't receive cash, says Jharkhand survey

Jharkhand officials "testing" biometric system for PDS
By Our Representative
A recent survey, carried out by student volunteers in the Nagri block in the outskirts of Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand, has found that a huge 97% of the sample households have opposed Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) against the subsidies they should be getting by using the public distribution (PDS) system ration shops. The survey was coordinated by well-known academic Jean Dreze  and researcher Nazar Khalid.
The survey follows the October 2017 decision of the Jharkhand Government to introduce DBT as a pilot project for PDS in Nagri. Instead of rice at Re 1 per kg at the ration shop, the PDS cardholders are being offered a subsidy (calculated at Rs 31.60 per kg) in their bank account, as they are to buy rice at the ration shop at Rs 32.60 per kg.
If this pilot succeeds, the Jharkhand government had announced, it would extend it across the state.
Bringing this to light, Right to Food (RTF), a Jharkhand-based campaign organization, said, “Their unhappiness – indeed anger – with the DBT system is not hard to understand. In January 2018, about 25% of cardholders did not receive the cash.”
It added, “Even those who get money face many hurdles. Many households do not know which of their bank accounts is being credited with DBT money. The sample households had 3.5 bank accounts on average.”
RTF stated, quoting from the survey, “They are often constrained to make multiple trips to the bank to find out if the money has come, as most of them do not receive SMS alerts. Some banks even disallow cardholders from withdrawing money (claiming that the amounts are too small), forcing them to make further trips to the local Pragya Kendra or banking correspondents, where they often have to pay bribes.”
“The entire process leads to a huge waste of time and money for the cardholders. It is especially cumbersome for the elderly, the disabled, and those who find it difficult to take time off work”, it underlined.
Jean Dreze, Nazar Khalid
In a statement, RTF underscored, “All this is in addition to the hassles of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA), rampant across Jharkhand. ABBA applies at the Pragya Kendra and ration shop. It is far from clear what purpose DBT serves when ABBA is in place at the ration shop.”
“PDS dealers, too, are inconvenienced by the DBT system as they now have to spend much more time to distribute grain and have to handle about Rs 4-5 lakh worth of cash every month”, it added.
Nagri, said RTF, is the latest in a series of unsuccessful DBT pilots, adding, “As per Niti Ayog’s surveys of DBT pilots in Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, this system is more expensive to access PDS entitlements. These surveys also found that over time a small proportion of cardholders stopped receiving the cash subsidy.”
“While these pilots allowed cardholders to buy food items from the market, in Nagri people were restricted to purchasing grain from the PDS shop”, RTF said, adding, “A DBT pilot also failed in Kasba block of Purnia district (Bihar), though further details of this experiment are not available.”
The DBT “failure” acquires significance, as Jharkhand has amongst the highest levels of hunger and undernutrition in the country, and PDS is the lifeline for many rural households, RTF said, adding,” It may be recalled that lakhs of ration cards not linked with Aadhaar were deleted in Jharkhand last year.”
Significantly, in the last five months, seven starvation deaths were reported in Jharkhand. Five of them were due to the mandatory integration of PDS with Aadhaar.
Meanwhile, several civil society organizations, in alliance with some political parties, have decided to hold a padyatra from Nagri to Ranchi on February 26 to demand the discontinuation of the DBT pilot. The political parties to join the protest include Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (ML), Indian National Congress, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honorary Canadian citizenship

By Our Representative
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Common thread of Modi, political Hinduism, nationalism? 'Contest' of ideas isn't over

By Salman Khurshid*
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Will minorities in India be 2nd class citizens? Wake up call: Be a 'communicating' Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
India today is at a defining moment of her history. There is so much that has taken place in the past five years (and particularly in the last ten days)- that several citizens of the country are genuinely concerned about the future of the country! Will democracy survive? Will key elements of the Constitution be changed?