They have to put up with lengthy procedures, official apathy, and lack of assistance

In the dingy lobby of the Mangalore Taluk Tahsildar office stands a queue of Ration Card applicants. The line moves slowly forward, while more people join in from the back. The look of frustration is palpable.

Lengthy and confusing procedures, official apathy, and lack of assistance account for the sense of disorder that prevails, said applicants.

The scene and all its frustrations are far too familiar for Ravishankar Bhat from Escodi near Mulky.

For more than four years, he has been frequenting the office for a new ration card. On Wednesday after an hour in the queue, the officer told him he needed photocopies of certain documents. After this, he stood in the queue again. “I have submitted the applications so many times here,” he rued.

“Initially, they told me my first application had been deleted, and asked me to resubmit. They ask for more documents every time I come. Nemmadi Kendra asks me to go to taluk office where they tell me to go to gram panchayat who ask me to submit other documents to the kendra. This is never ending,” he said.

“There are so many rules in this place, and they seem to keep changing after every visit,” said a person from Deralakatte who had been waiting in the queue for over an hour.

Many echoed this view, saying most of the time waiting in the offices could be offset if a helpdesk was present. “I get the documents they ask for, I wait for hours in the line, and when I get the chance to meet the officer, he says I need more documents. They don’t even have the patience to elaborate on this,” said T.A. Aliappa from Kenjar.

Although he stood in the line for a change in address in his ration card, he said he had given up hope to add his youngest son’s name to the ration card. “The department wants the entire family to be present for this. While my youngest son is here, my other children are in Chennai, Mumbai, and Dubai. How much sense does this make?” said Mr. Aliappa.

Undistributed cards

The wait for applicants does not end even after the procedures are carried out. In the office of Food and Civil Supplies Department lie around 2,000 cards that have not been distributed yet.

Although the department is mandated to send SMSs to applicants after the card had reached, many applicants, including Narayana Shettigar Ullal, said a message had not come even though his card had reached the office.

Assistant Director Suresh Kumar said around 300 cards come to the office daily, but only around 100 are taken. “The messaging is done from servers in Bangalore. The office here has nothing to do with it,” he said.

More In: Mangalore