A day after the Delhi government’s Food and Civil Supplies department decided to stop distributing ration to those who had not availed of it for three consecutive months, minister Imran Hussain alleged that the move was “draconian, unreasonable and illegal”.
In a letter to the food commissioner Sunday, Hussain directed him to restore ration to all beneficiaries who hadn’t availed the services from January to March; initiate verification for these persons; stop distributing ration on cards that were “prima facie found to be fake”; and refer the matter to the Anti-Corruption Branch, as per the L-G’s orders.
On Saturday, the department had said it would stop supply of ration until beneficiaries were verified. The direction was issued after the department’s data showed that around 4 lakh ration card holders had not collected ration for two months.
On March 10, The Indian Express had first reported that 4 lakh ration cards were on the verge of being cancelled due to what the department had termed “suspicious circumstances” — something the AAP had denied.
Since then, the issue has been at the heart of a tussle between the department and the AAP government, particularly after a CAG report underlined alleged irregularities in ration distribution.
Stating that the directive had been issued without his approval, Hussain wrote, “The circular says that ration is being stopped from May 2018, their verification would be done and that ration would be restored only if they are found to be genuine. This is a strange proposition. The department should have first conducted verification and if the ration card was found to be bogus, then it should have been cancelled.”
However the department countered that, as per law, they are bound to cancel ration cards that showed signs of inactivity. “The idea is that many people might have falsely obtained ration cards. But since the implementation of the e-PoS system, it is possible that they haven’t been able to use these,” an official from the department said.
However Hussain said that while it could be true that some of the cards were ‘bogus’, many people had faced “genuine problems” in availing the services due to “faulty implementation” of the e-POS system.