In a drive undertaken to crack down on ineligible beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) scheme, the Surat district supply department officials have de-linked 52,800 ration cards which had made their holders the beneficiaries of the NFSA scheme.
Surat District Collector officials had received several complaints from prominent persons, including politicians, that they didn’t come under the NFSA scheme, but their names were found on the list of beneficiaries and some other persons had purchased subsidised wheat, rice and kerosene from the ration card shops they were linked to.
The total number of NFSA beneficiaries who hold ration cards in Surat is 4.20 lakh.
Acting on the complaint, Surat District Collector Mahendra Patel had ordered district supply department officials to carry out the drive and check whether any illegal activity was carried out. The teams carried out checking at fair price shops in the city and found that some fair price shop owners had been involved in selling wheat, rice, kerosene, etc illegally.
The officials had registered eight offences under the fair price shop owners with different police stations in Surat city. The Crime Branch had started investigations and arrested the accused fair price shop owners on February 4, along with the software engineers, for alleged irregularities in the implementation of state government’s Maa Annapurna scheme.
A day later, a Surat-based RTI activist had alleged that the biometric data of all ration card holders had been leaked and were being misused by black marketing mafias to sell off subsidised ration in black market.
Meanwhile, the district supply department officials had started the drive to verify the actual beneficiaries of the NFSA scheme-linked ration card holders with non-NFSA. The drive was carried out from all zones in the city and in the last two months.
The officials have found that 52,800 beneficiaries are not eligible for the NFSA scheme.
District supply department officer R T Zala said, “We have started the drive to verify the beneficiaries under the NFSA and we have found the names of prominent persons, so we have converted the into non-NFSA ration cards. We are also taking legal action against the accused fair price shop owners. With the help of a software, they hack the data and get it linked to the main server. The drive is still on and the number will rise in the coming days.”
He added, “We are verifying the names of such people on the NFSA beneficiary list and many such names have been converted into non-NFSA.” “The government has made a new software which cannot be hacked since it is a web-based software. Through this software, the thumb impression of the beneficiary will be directly linked to the data link of Aadhaar card and which would be cross verified and then confirmed. This will also help us give ration to the actual beneficiaries,” added Zala.