Kota Srinivas Poojary, Minister for Ports and Muzrai, said on Monday that the Government is still thinking on whether it should allow the gram panchayats to provide below the poverty line (BPL) ration cards to the poor.

Addressing the general body meeting of the Udupi Taluk Panchayat here, Mr. Poojary said the gram panchayats in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts were known for their efficiency contrary to the situation elsewhere. While the tax collection in the gram panchayats in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts was around 90 per cent, in some districts the tax collection by the gram panchayats was very low. Hence the Government was in a fix over the issue of providing powers to the gram panchayats to issue BPL ration cards, he said.

Mr. Poojary was responding to the requests from the taluk panchayat members that it was difficult for people from the villages to come to the taluk headquarters to get the ration cards or to amend the ration cards.

Umesh Naik, panchayat member, said the process of inclusion of names in the BPL ration card was extremely cumbersome. It was difficult to take bed-ridden patients to the taluk offices or Nemmadi Kendras, he said. An official from the Food and Civil Supplies Department said the head of the family was required only for deletion of any name. In the case of bed-ridden patients, laptops would be provided to officials to go to their residences and do the needful, he said.

Bhaskar P., taluk panchayat member, demanded that medical aid be given promptly to the members belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Mr. Poojary said there were many schemes such as the Yashaswini and Vajpayee Arogyashri for the BPL families. These families could avail treatment at private hospitals designated by the Government under these schemes, he said.

But Sunita Shetty, another member, said that all cardiac diseases were not treated at the private hospitals identified by the Government under the health schemes. Some private hospitals had cumbersome procedure for admitting patients. This could prove fatal if the poor patients required immediate treatment, she said. Raghupati Bhat, MLA, Katapady Shankar Poojary, president of zilla panchayat, and Devadas Hebbar, president of Udupi Taluk Panchayat, were present.