Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Nuapada, June 14:
With the number of people registered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in two districts – Nuapada and Kendrapara – going beyond the total population of these two districts as per the 2011 Census, an embarrassed Odisha government has now written to the collectors of the two districts asking them to begin an exercise to weed out bogus applicants.
The Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department of the state government was forced to write the letter to the collectors after it emerged that 107% of the population in Nuapada and 105% of the population in Kendrapara (as per Census 2011 data) have applied to be registered under the Act.
Besides these two districts, the number of prospective beneficiaries under the NFSA has gone beyond the recorded population in 76 blocks and two municipal areas.
“The prescribed exclusion criteria leave no room for any ambiguity about who can be included and who cannot. The government has issued directives to the collectors to ensure strict adherence to the guidelines,” said Sanjay Das Burma, Minister Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare reacting on the situation.
The Central government’s guidelines direct state governments to register a maximum of 82% of the population as beneficiaries in rural areas and 56% of the population as beneficiaries in urban areas on the basis of the 2011 Census under the NFSA.
In order to make aware people about the eligibility criteria under the NFSA, district collectors have been directed to put up wall painting in villages by June 20. Ineligible families have been asked to withdraw their applications by June 30.
Since several government employees have registered themselves under NFSA, the department has asked them to furnish affidavits that they come under the eligible family criteria. The department has warned of criminal proceedings against ineligible applicants if they fail to withdraw their applications before the last date for withdrawal –June 30.
“It’s certainly the fault of the people who have done the survey. They have included ineligible people while keeping out eligible people. Once ineligible ones are struck off from the list, genuine poor people will benefit from the scheme,” said Birendra Pradhan, a resident of Nuapada.
“Poor people have been left out; it’s the mahajans (rich people) who are benefitting from the scheme. They are getting wheat, rice, kerosene and sugar everything. The government should properly do the survey so that poor people are benefitted,” said Golapi Podha, another resident of Nuapada.
As per guidelines laid down by the Union government, 3.26 crore out of the total population of 4.19 crore are eligible to be covered under the centrally sponsored food security scheme. But if departmental sources are to be believed, 3.92 crore have already registered themselves under the NFSA. The figures make it obvious that lakhs of ineligible people have made an attempt to sneak into the scheme to avail the benefits it offers in terms of highly subsidised food grains.
Readers interested in the subject can click on the under mentioned link to know more on the issue for a story posted by OST on June 3 this year.