After the state government announced the implementation of the Centre’s Food Security Act as Maa Annapurna Yojana, Fatehpura resident, Ramila Lokhande, 37, hoped that her family of five will have access to monthly grains. But it was not to be. Ramila is among the many in the impoverished areas of Vadodara’s old city area who have been left out of the scheme as they “do not fulfill the criteria”.
The final list of beneficiaries released by the state government for Vadodara shows that a higher number of cards have been distributed in pockets where mostly middle-class families inhabit. On Wednesday, in an elaborate function at the Akota stadium in the city, 31,357 beneficiaries of the scheme will receive their Annapurna cards, but many families in Vadodara are unable to fathom why their names were deleted from the final list released on March 15, after an initial inclusion in the interim list of beneficiaries on March 3. Under the scheme, a beneficiary holding the Annapurna card will receive wheat at Rs 2 per kilo and rice at Rs 3 per kilo. Currently, Above Poverty Line (APL) card holding families are entitled to a monthly stock of 2.5 kg wheat per member of the family at Rs 7.70 per kg.
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Ramila’s husband, Ramesh, is a daily wager and the oldest of her three children collects sticks to sell them off to poor families for an additional income. Ramila says, “There are days when we do not have money to buy any food. We subsist on the wheat that we buy from the fair price store on our ration cards and some spices mixed with oil.”
Ramila says she had applied for the Annapurna card, but her name does not feature among the 200 beneficiaries who have been chosen from the area. According to the guidelines, each rationing shop was to be allowed 81% cards of its total list of ration card holders. Ramila’s fair price shop, however, has received only 200-odd clearances.
Sunita Chaudhari is also among those whose form has been rejected for the Annapurna scheme. This, despite the fact that she entered the details of an “ailing husband”, under one of the required columns. Sunita’s husband, Ashwin, worked as a daily wage painter until he slipped into coma after an accidental fall, three years ago. Since then, Ashwin has been unable to walk, forcing Sunita to take up jobs as a domestic help in affluent areas of the city. “I have no breadwinner in the family. When our form was rejected, I found out that more forms were cleared from affluent areas where Annapurna cards are not necessary,” Sunita says.
Another resident of Fatehpura, Nazir Mohammed, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, said that despite the specific column seeking details of terminally ill patients, his form was rejected. To register their protest, fair price shop owners association handed over a memorandum to the District Collector last week, seeking probe into the distribution of cards. The association alleged that Annapurna cards were cleared for shops that “did not need them, in connivance with officials”.
Vadodara’s District Supply Officer B B Chaudhari said that the names could have been deleted due to a “technical glitch” and the people could re-apply to seek the cards.