'PDS scam close to illegal mining in State'

'PDS scam close to illegal mining in State'

Karnataka State is suffering a loss of Rs 144.8 cr per month in public distribution system (PDS), according to Dr R Balasubramaniam, who recently submitted an investigative report to Lokayukta. Balasumbraniam was appointed as a special investigation officer by the previous Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde.

In an intearction with journalists organised by Mysore District Journalists Association (MDJA) here on Friday, Balasubramaniam said the illegality in the very system starts from identification of poor actually eligible for the benefit.

He could draw the report collecting materials from Bangalore urban and rural districts, Mysore, Mandya, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur, Hubli and Gadag, besides visiting 16,000 families.

The statistics provided by the state government says of total 1.20 crore population, 96 lakh are poor, in contrast to the findings of the central government that only 31.29 lakh poor families exist to avail the benefit.

Said Balasubramaniam;  Ghost card holders are making for a loss of Rs 54.4 crore (38 pc), followed by distribution leakage- Rs 56.6 crore, 39 pc), active surplus- Rs 24 crore, 17 pc and stolen subsidy- Rs six crore totalling Rs 144.8 crore.

There is unholy nexus between Food Corporation of India (FCI) godown to ration shops with pilferage in every level amounting to 38 per cent. Rice diverted from the godowns will be repolished and sold for a higher price.

He alleged that 99 pc of the card holders in BPL category are falsely included. Moreover, most of the genuine card holders are not availing the facility, thus helping the system to get rotten day by day. Balasubramaniam said, almost all the ration shops licence holders know about the card holders regularly making use of the same. They are taking the benefit irregulars, diverting the foodgrains to black market. He held the system responsible for the ingrained corruption, that sprouted from 1997 after ‘targeting PDS’ was introduced.

The intention was to make the system beneficial for poor only. Accordingly, 29 kg of rice and six kg of wheat was supplied to every card holders.

The mess became messier when the government said ‘those who declares himself or herself as poor at Nemmadi Kendras too can enjoy the privilege.

Also, the commission of licenced ration shops, which remains unchanged at 26 paisa per kg of rice and 29 paisa for wheat.

In a mocking tone Balasubramaniam said, it’s the government that made the blunder, but is asking the common man to rectify it, citing the example of the recent chaos and confusion over LPG distribution system. In his recommendations, he has sought inquiry into yet to be launched biometric system at ration shops despite releasing of the required funds, apart from supplying locally available grains including ragi, to cut down on the expenditure.

To see to it that the report will not gather dust like previous such documents, Balasubramaniam said NGOs interested in rectifying the lapses are filing for a copy under Right to Information Act.They will file a public interest litigation (PIL) to make the government act on the report,  he informed.

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