PDS shops cheating the poor under Anna Bhagya, shows NGO sting

PDS shops cheating the poor under Anna Bhagya, shows NGO sting

Shops under-provide rice to beneficiaries

At least two fair price shops in the city are cheating BPL families under the state government's flagship Anna Bhagya scheme. They are either sending them back by saying there is no stock or are supplying 2-3 kg less than the designated quota.

In a sting operation, Lancha Mukta Karnataka Nirmana Vedike, an NGO, found that fair price shops are under-providing rice though the beneficiaries are linked to biometric and Aadhaar-linked systems. The distributors are particularly targeting gullible and uneducated people, the NGO said. It has filed a complaint with the authorities concerned.

On a tip-off, members of the NGO visited two shops in JP Nagar and on Bannerghatta Road.

"At the shop in JP Nagar, we used a hidden camera with the help of a BPL card holder. At fair price shops, a BPL cardholder's details are computerised and after the biometric entry, a slip is generated that gives details such as the number of members in the family and the quantity of rice or foodgrains. Each BPL cardholder is eligible to get 7 kg. At this shop, the slip would accurately mention the quantity of rice or foodgrains that is being supplied. Things get murky at the next step. A person at the next window would tear the slip and under-provide rice and foodgrains. When we weighed them, it turned out that the shop was giving 2-3 kg less rice than the individual quota," V R Marathe, the president of the NGO, said.

The NGO has submitted the video to the Food and Civil Supplies Department and filed a complaint. It also claimed that the shop owner had "admitted" to the wrongdoing on camera. "He even told us that the licence of two other shops in the same locality was cancelled over similar irregularities," Marathe said.

The Bannerghatta Road shop, the NGO said, was generating slips but not supplying rice. It would send back people by saying the stock had run out. It would not supply the rice until the end of the month but would enter it in the records. "Official statistics show that 1.09 crore BPL families are eligible for Anna Bhagya. The deserving people are not getting rice at these shops. We hope the department will take stern action against such shops," Marathe said.

DH's efforts to reach officials for comment did not fructify.