No Aadhar, No Ration is a reality for many in Jharkhand village

Source: NDTV

KHUNTI, JHARKHAND: Amid outrage over the death of an 11-year-old girl in Jharkhand allegedly after the administration stopped subsidised food for her family, there have been a spate of statements from state capital Ranchi and New Delhi that people could not be denied cheap ration if they did not have the 12-digit Aadhaar number.

There have been also suggestions that Santosh Kumari’s death, 150 km from state capital Ranchi – even if it was due to starvation and not malaria as claimed by district officials – was an aberration. Her family claims she died crying, “bhaat, bhaat (rice).”

Source: NDTV

In a village on the Khunti district that was a part of Ranchi district till a decade earlier, 60 houses in the village, at least 20 per cent have their names struck off the subsidised ration list.

Some, because they don’t have an Aadhaar card. Others who do have Aadhaar, complain that they still don’t get the subsidised rations for their family.

An example is Narade Mundu. He has an Aadhaar but still hasn’t been able to get subsidised rations for his family of five. “When we got to the ration shop, they ask us to get our Aadhaar linked. I have submitted our Aadhaar so many times that I am tired of it… but the rations haven’t started yet.”

Pitai Runda, 50, has eight people to feed on his monthly income that averages 5,000-6,000. Some in his family get rations, some don’t. He blames the computer for it, the device at the ration shop for his misery. “When there was no computer, we would get the rations. But ever since it started, am not getting ration for the entire family.”

His neighbour Mundra Runda, 35, has an Aadhaar but gets ration for only one. “Because of the computer,” he complained.

Kumari, too, had not eaten for eight days before her death on September 28, according to a report; she was unable to avail of the mid-day meal she usually got in school due to Durga Puja holidays. Her father is mentally ill and unable to work, and while her mother Koyla Devi and 20-year-old sister try to get work cutting grass on others’ fields, they earn only Rs 80-90 per week. For months, neither the village nor surrounding areas have seen any MGNREGA work projects.

The family is eligible for rations under the National Food Security Act. However, activists from the Right to Food Campaign and NREGA Watch, who went to Kumari’s village on a fact-finding mission, have said that the local ration dealer refused to grant the family the ration they were due for the last six months because their ration card was not linked to the Aadhaar.

“My daughter died begging for rice…For four or five days, no one in the family had eaten,” said Santoshi’s mother Koyli Devi, who is being treated in hospital.

District officials had been the first to give themselves a clean chit and attributed her death to malaria. But they haven’t spoken on the cancelled ration card so far.

In Delhi, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told NDTV that no one could have been denied cheap rations for want of Aadhaar. Mr Paswan said he had dispatched a fact-finding team to Jharkhand.

Just a few months back, Mr Paswan had claimed that linking ration cards with Aadhaar had saved the government Rs. 14,000 crore by weeding out what he had then called as “bogus ration cards”.

Source: The Wire, NDTV, Scroll.