Skip to main content

Refusal to implement NFSA? Gujarat babus 'fear' poverty numbers would spike

By Pankti Jog*

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) has the provision to cover 75% of rural and 50% of urban population for subsidized ration, for which the Government of India is giving 100% expenses. Many states like Orissa, West Bengal and some southern states are adding their own budgets to this. But as for Gujarat, surprisingly, it has been found reducing the scope of NFSA coverage.
After the lockdown was announced on March 24, all priority households – antyodaya (poorest of the poor), below poverty line (BPL), and those covered under NFSA called above poverty line-1 (APL-1)  – were supposed to be allocated double the quota of the ration across India.
However, in Gujarat, there has existed an option of “splitting” ration cards – antyodaya, APL or BPL – once families get bigger and separated. For this, the they would have to fill up form No 5, issued by the state food and civil supply department. Under the provision, before issuing a separate card, the competent authority is supposed to determine the category of card of ration card to be handed over to the separated family.
As per a Gujarat government resolution (GR) dated March 23, 2016, a three member bock-level committee should decide on the criterion to include a family in the priority household list under NFSA. However, across Gujarat, this procedure is not followed, and every separated family is automatically put under non-NFSA category, and issued an APL card.
Each applicant seeking separate ration card is then asked to fill up a claim form if they wish to have an antoyodaya or BPL card for getting free ration, which requires a long list of documents, including income certificate and affidavit, costing up to Rs 700. The applicant is required to visit different places for getting these documents done.
During the Covid situation this is an extra burden put on the families for no fault of theirs. Since 2016, it is estimated that thousands of such claim forms have been submitted at block levels awaiting disposal.
Akshay Kumar Harijan, a youth from tribal village Toyni in Devgadh Baria block in Dahod district, contacted us the Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Panel (MAGP) helpline, narrating his story. Living in a joint family, the names of his family members were included the antyodaya card, wich his farther as the head. 
Gujarat has lately witnessed a sharp decrease the priority households covered under the National Food Security Act. Poor families are being excluded for no fault of theirs
After necessary formalities, he was handed over a separate ration card. But to his utter shock, this was an APL, non-NFSA card, on which he could not get any ration. He told MAGP helpline that no due process of checking his income was carried out before handing him over the APL card.
Cover of MAGP booklet on NFSA 
We at the MAGP helpline (9924085000) are flooded with similar calls from many districts across Gujarat to know what they should do, as everyone is being issued APL cards. Even fair price shop (FPS) holders have reported this problem to our helpline, with request to bring this to the notice of government officials. 
This has led to a sharp decrease in the number of names under the priority household list. The allocation of food grains in Gujarat, too, has been decreasing. Gujarat as of today is showing coverage of 3.35 crore under NFSA, which comes to 48% of the Gujarat’s population, as against the provision 75% the rural and 50% of the urban population to be covered under NFSA.
When we contacted block and district supply officers, they told us that these instructions have come from Gandhinagar, where officials feared that pleas for new ration cards under NFSA from separated families would give the message that poverty was increasing in the state.
This is a completely wrong interpretation of priority households, because separated households – whether antyodaya, BPL or APL – would mean a higher number of priority households, but the amount of food grains wouldn’t go up, as only ration card splits.
One should remember: Refusal to offer ration because of procedural issues amidst Covid crisis would only aggravate the condition of the marginalized families, many of whose sources of income have sharply reduced. The government is expected to expand its coverage for food security instead of restricting it, that too without following the due process of law. This may force many families into hunger.
---
*With Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

Mayawati's 'success' depends on how BSP taps new crop of young Amdekarite leaders

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Whatever be the election results in Uttar Pradesh on March 10, it is extremely important to understand: that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and its leader Mayawati have the potential to rise like a Phoenix any time.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

India's actual Covid death rate about 2500 per million, third highest in world: Study

By Rajiv Shah  There is now well-researched proof, if it can be called that, indicating that the Government of India may have fudged data to show lower Covid death rate. A new paper, published in “Science”, has said that while officially the Government of India’s Covid-related death estimates as of January 1, 2022 – 345 per million population – are one-seventh of the US death rate, the actual analysis of crude death rate in India suggests, this may be a gross underestimation. 

Barbaric, inhuman attack on Odisha villagers to implement JSW project: NGO networks

Counterview Desk  A “solidarity statement" issued by three top civil society networks, Friends of the Earth India (FoE India), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has asked the Odisha chief minister to ensure that the “inhumane barbaric attack on the villagers of Dhinkia, Odisha” in order to implement a corporate project.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Haridwar call for genocide direct result of Modi 'tolerating' Islamophobic policies

By Our Representative  A high-level briefing organised in Washington DC, in which as many as 17 human rights and interfaith organizations -- including Amnesty International USA, Genocide Watch and Hindus for Human Rights, apart from several persons in their individual capacity -- participated, has come down heavily on what they called "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Islamophobic policies and tolerance of open incitement by Hindu extremists for a genocide of Muslims."