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Gujarat rural poor being 'deprived' of ration as per eligibility: NGO tells top officials

Biometric impression in a ration shop
By Our Representative
Gujarat’s top NGO, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Ahmedabad, giving specific instances obtained from its grassroots activists from across the state, has told top state officials that, despite government notifications requiring free distribution of foodgrains to people during the current lockdown period, a large number of people, especially daily wagers, are unable to feed themselves.
Pointing out that the situation is particularly is especially precarious for people who migrated to different parts of Gujarat in search for jobs, a CSJ representation, sent to the state chief secretary and several district collectors, says that even those people who under eligible to get food grains under the Anna Brahma Yojana, are finding it difficult to get their quota of ration.
The Anna Brahma Yojana is supposed to help those who do not possess ration cards or are extremely poor, are destitute, aged or homeless, so that they do not face food crisis or die of malnutrition, the representation says, underlining, the yojana is of “utmost importance” today, and if the eligible population does not receive food grains, it would mean contempt of the Supreme Court order of 2002.
The representation cites complaints the NGO has received over the last few days, suggesting that public distribution system (PDS) shops are announcing through boards displayed outside ration shops, that only those holding a ration card and having availed of the ration facility for three months would be eligible of getting their food quota.
Noting that boards also state, those with the above poverty line (APL) ration cards will not get ration, the representation states, this is not accordance with the objectives of the yojana. As per the definition approved by the Supreme Court, refusing to distribute food grains among the hungry is an act that should attract punishment.
Boards displayed on PDS shops say, only those having availed of  ration facility for three months would be eligible to get food quota
Giving specific instances of Saurashtra region, the representation says, in Amreli district, APL card holders in several villages such as Zhinjaka, Bar Patodi, Shiyal Bet, Chanch Bandar etc. of Rajula taluka, are not being distributed food grains. The problem is the same with the below poverty line (BPL) families, which had migrated out of the village in search of job.
Mamlatdar's stamp "essential" for getting ration
“They are being told to get the mamlatdar’s stamp. People fear, if they go several kilometres to the office of the mamlatdar get the ration card stamp, the lock-down order of the government would be seen as having been violated. They might be in the danger getting infected”, says the representation.
Worse, the representation says, in all the villages of Lathi taluka of the district, boards have been displayed outside ration shops stating only those who have continuously received subsidized food grains during the last three months alone would be eligible.
Quoting one Dhirubhai Ravjibhai Unawa, the representation says, he has complained, he is being denied food grains, as he belongs to Chhatriya village of Dhari taluka has migrated with his family to Abharampura village of Savarkundla taluka as a labourer. Currently, he says, he is without any job.
In another instance, says orders, ration shop has not been opened in Moldi village of Savarkundla taluka.
In Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, in several of the villages such as Delwada, Tad, Sajawapur, Mota, Paaswala, Simar and Vasoj, activists have reported that ration shops do not have enough stock of salt. Even though the government has ordered that biometric impressions should not be obtained, as it might spread infection, this is being done Delwada, Tad, Sajawapur, Mota, Paswala, Simar and Vasoj villages.
The situation is not very different in North Gujarat, the representation says, pointing out, in Meghraj taluka of Aravalli district, only BPL card holders have been provided food grains in Megharanj town as also several villages such as Ramal, Mormi, Zarda, Valuna, Panchal, Naranpura, Nawadhara, Rajgor, Gad and Chitadara.
Then, reports from Bhiloda taluka's Od village suggest that the amount of food grain being given is considerably less than what the beneficiaries are eligible. The situation is not very different in Meghraj's Ramad, Vuluna, Nawadhara, Rajgore, Gade, Chitadara, and Naranpura villages, the representation says.
In Naranpura, the ration shop opens after 11 am and closes before 5:30 pm, and people have to visit the ration shop three of four times in order to get their ration. A BPL card holder from Naranpura said, he was refused ration for failing to link the ration card with the aadhaar card through biometric method.
As for South Gujarat, giving the instance of Bharuch town, the representation states, the quality of wheat being provided in the ration in the Panchabati and Narmada apartment areas is of “extremely poor quality.” Further, says a complaint from Umarpada, only those who come early are given ration. Others are being turned away.

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