Skip to main content

Protesters oppose Direct Bank Transfer, testimonies suggest how Jharkhand villagers are being harassed

Biometric machine doesn't recognize this old working
woman's hands, and she can't get her ration
By Our Representative
Thousands of residents of Nagri Block (Ranchi District, Jharkhand) have marched to the Chief Minister’s house on Monday to protest against the Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) for food subsidy, currently under experiment the villages near Ranchi. The experiment is claimed caused havoc in Nagri in the last four months. A recent survey found that 97% of PDS cardholders are opposed to it.
Taken out under the banner of Ration Bachao Manch, it is a broad coalition of a few opposition parties, including Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Left and the Congress, and 10 people’s organisations, such as Right to Food Campaign, All-India People’s Forum, United Mili Forum, and Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas.
The Jharkhand government began its experiment with DBT in October 2017, under which people were forced to collect their food subsidy in cash from the bank before using it to buy rice from the ration shop at Rs 32 per kg.
Earlier, they were able to buy rice from the ration shop at Re 1 per kg. At the end of January 2018, student volunteers conducted a survey in 13 randomly-selected villages of Nagri. The findings show that the DBT system is causing huge inconvenience and even depriving many people of their food rations.
On average, respondents had received just 2 out of 4 DBT installments in the preceding four months. Among the survey respondents, 97% are opposed to the DBT system. Regular agitations against DBT have taken place at the Block and District headquarters.
***
Some of the testimonies taken by the campaigners show how people have been suffering due to Direct Bank Transfer over the last four months:

Gaura Orain lives with her elderly husband. Last month, the DBT money was credited to his account. He had to make four visits to the bank before he was able to withdraw the money. Gaura’s husband had an accident two years ago and now has trouble walking. Each visit to the bank, with his limping leg and the support of a stick, is quite painful.
Aychi Nagduwar is an 85-year-old widow. She lives with her 40-year-old son, who is mentally challenged. For unknown reasons, no DBT money is being credited to her account.
Daniel Tirkey has not been able to collect his food rations, due to various problems with the DBT system. He has received a notice saying that his ration card will be cancelled if he does not collect his food rations.
Fulo Mundain has two bank accounts. She received her DBT money once in one of them. After that, she didn’t receive any money. She has been checking both accounts regularly. Last month, she was forced to buy her food ration with her own money.
Somari Mundain’s son and daughter-in-law live in the city and do not keep in touch with her. She takes care of her grandson. Earlier, her grandson would get the food rations for her. But now, he is unable to work his way around the bank, and she is too old to travel all the way to the bank multiple times and wait in the queue. So far, no DBT money has been credited into her account. Somari uses her widow pension to buy the food rations.
Binod Kerketta is yet to receive his ration card. Meanwhile, the PDS dealer has given him a notebook. The dealer says that his ration card has been sanctioned, but is yet to be issued. Quite a few in Kelende have a similar notebook. Mostly, they do not get DBT money and their names do not figure on the list.
Basi Orain’s DBT money gets credited to her husband’s account. Her husband, however, works in Punjab and she has not been able to withdraw the money from his account. Despite her repeated pleas, the bank has not been able to ensure that the DBT money goes to her own account. She takes care of her mentally challenged son. They have not been able to buy food rations for the last 2 months.
Fulit Kachhap is about 85-years-old and physically challenged. To make things easier, her daughter submitted her own bank account for DBT transfers. However, the money is credited to Fulit’s account. The daughter has to book an auto to take Fulit to the bank to withdraw the money. This costs her 300 rupees each time. The daughter first takes Fulit to the bank for identity verification. Then she brings Fulit back home, after which she goes back to the bank, waits in the queue for hours and is finally able to withdraw the money. The banks have no separate queues for the old or disabled.
Dukraj Prajapati is about 80 years old and physically challenged, making it difficult for him to walk. Despite his disability, he has to visit the bank for 3- 4 days every month to withdraw the DBT money. Despite the effort, he could purchase ration only twice in four months as the DBT money was not credited for the remaining two months.
Janale Mirda is a daily-wage labourer who earns Rs 300 a day in Ranchi. It took him 6 days to get the DBT money, involving an opportunity cost of 1800 rupees. His plea to the government is to remove the DBT system, which has become a new source of agony for poor people like him who were already struggling, day after day, to make ends meet.
Lalita Devi is around 75 years old and lives alone. Unable to afford a rickshaw or auto, she has to walk to the bank - 7 km away from her home. She has been able to collect her food rations only once since October, and it took her 13 days.
Damiya Oraon’s DBT money gets credited to her husband’s account. Her husband, however, is dead and she is unable to withdraw the money from his account. She has been using her own money to buy up her food rations, which cost her Rs 32 per kg.
Santi Devi has four members in her family and most of them have their own bank accounts. For the past 6-7 days, everyone in her house has been going to different banks, sacrificing their daily wages, waiting in long queues, checking their balance for the DBT money and returning home empty handed.
Satri Devi lives with her husband in the village, while her son works in Ranchi. The DBT money is credited to her husband’s account. Satri says that her husband spends all the DBT money on alcohol, leaving them with no money to buy food rations.
Prakash Kachhap was told by the Pragya Kendra that his DBT money had been credited to his Airtel wallet. When he went to the mobile store to get it redeemed, they told him that the government had stopped this scheme and that the money could not be retrieved. He does not know whether the money is still in that digital wallet. He has been using his own money to buy food rations.

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
All elderly people, whether they live in villages or cities, have the same problem. Since it is enforced, the govt MUST find a solution

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Why crib? 4.5% is far better than pre-1980 'Hindu rate of growth': Subramanian replies

By Rajiv Shah
Even as sticking to his original argument that India's gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 has been overestimated by 2.5%, renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has said in a fresh paper that his estimate of post-2011-12 growth rate at around 4.5% is surely not "implausibly low", as some of his critics have been arguing following his controversial June paper.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

UP's Sonbhadra killing of 10 tribals highlights 'failure' to implement Forest Rights Act

Counterview Desk On July 17, as many as 10 people, including three women, were killed and 28 injured when a village head and his supporters opened fire on a group of tribal farmers in Ubha village of Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh. While the firing took place following a clash between over a land ownership dispute, it reportedly highlights failure of officials enforce Forest Rights Acts (FRA) and Survey Settlement in favour of tribals.