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

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

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.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).