Govt drive to weed out bogus BPL cards

Officials find the process time-consuming

Under pressure, the Government had decided during the Belgaum Cabinet session, not to scrutinise the applications and directives were issued to give BPL cards to everybody who had applied.

All that the card holders had to do was to provide an affidavit along with the application and no endorsement was required. A whopping 28 lakh temporary cards were issued during this drive. Now that the elections are over, the Food and Civil Supplies Department has been issued instructions to clean up the list. This massive process of elimination of bogus BPL card holders is by no means an easy task.

Department officials themselves state that they expect at least 15 per cent of bogus cards amongst the 1.06 crore card holders. In a drive conducted at Bangalore central range, amongst the 25,000 card holders 3,000 card holders were found to be fake.

Deputy Director of Central range, R Shivaprakash told Deccan Herald that the verification process was going on in earnest, but the process of obtaining relevant documents from departments like BSNL, RTO or IT Department for cross verification is time-consuming. Plus, it also involves house verification.

The Government, which was planning to issue computerised cards earlier, put the brakes on it due to elections and the model code of conduct. The slowdown of the verification process will, in all likelihood, delay the issue of cards to bona fide applicants as well.

Now, 28 lakh additional temporary card holders, have to be sifted and sieved before the issue of cards, through photographs, fingerprints on one hand along with the raw data like names and addresses on the other.

Interestingly, no action will be taken on those who have submitted false affidavits as the number is likely to be huge and has political ramifications as well.

In the districts, officials are themselves not convinced, if any proper verification can be conducted. For those applications, submitted at the Nemmadi telecentres, the information provided in an application can only be matched against the database of that particular taluks. So a person, who has BPL cards in two different districts can easily escape detection. Database integration has also been an agonisingly slow process and even a preliminary cleansing of the records is likely to take months.

With all these factors, the ambitious plan to introduce biometrics at the fair price shops to reduce corrupt practices is expected to take a backseat.

The genuine BPL cardholders, who have a long list of grievances against the Public Distribution System, will have to wait longer for their problems to be addressed without a hue and cry.

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