It may look strange, but it is true as per the government’s records. Though there is a hue and cry throughout the State over a large number of eligible poor families not getting BPL (Below Poverty Line) ration cards, in reality there are no takers for them, according to Food and Civil Supplies Minister D.N. Jeevaraj.
Replying to BJP member Bharati Shetty during Question Hour in the Legislative Council on Monday, the Minister explained that over 33 lakh applications had been received seeking BPL cards and 10.36 lakh had been scrutinised. But among them only about 1.38 lakh persons came to the Food and Civil Supplies Department’s offices for photographing themselves — which is a crucial part of procedures involved in availing the BPL card. Even worse was the final step when only 65,000 of the above persons came for collecting their BPL cards by giving their thumb impressions under the biometric system, he said.
The Minister suspected that most of the absentees could be those who already possessed BPL cards, but were trying to get additional cards. “They may have developed cold feet as they came to know that their thumb impressions will be taken along with their pictures. Fearing that they may be caught, most of them may be reluctant to collect the cards,” he said. At the same time, he noted that some of the absentees could be those who were not aware of the procedures or details regarding different steps involved in the processing of the card or those who did not have time.”
But the government was ready to give cards for the scrutinised applicants after taking their pictures and thumb impression, he said.
Mr. Jeevaraj said the Department had simplified the procedures for getting the BPL ration cards. Accordingly, there was no need for poor families to get income certificates from the Nemmadi Kendras. Instead, an attested letter from the Tahsildars concerned about the income level of applicants was enough to get BPL cards, he noted.
Meanwhile, some of the members urged the government to provide kerosene under the Public Distribution System to even those who have cooking gas connection against the present norm of giving kerosene to only those families which do not have cooking gas connection. Responding to this, the Minister said such a demand could be considered only if the Centre gave additional quantity of kerosene to Karnataka. He said he would meet the Union Food and Civil Supplies Minister soon to request him to release additional quantum of kerosene.
The members, especially those from Malnad region, said they needed kerosene for lighting lamps as the power situation was bleak following prolonged dry spells.