Bureaucratic ineptness has stymied a government initiative to crack down on ineligible Below Poverty Line (BPL) card-holders in the State.

Official sources told The Hindu here on Sunday that except in Thiruvananthapuram district, the drive had lost steam and a large number of government employees, businessmen, Non-Resident Indians, as well as top-notch professionals continued to hold the cards in gross disregard of the warnings issued from time to time.

According to a recent estimate, out of the 14,76,661 BPL card-holders in the State, Thrissur has the highest number, 1,71,493 and Wayanad the lowest, 32,158. In the absence of specific follow-up action by the district administration as well as the Food and Civil Supplies Department officials, those who had managed to secure the cards continue to enjoy subsidies as well as other sops meant for the poor and weaker sections.

Divergent figures

The Planning Commission had capped the number of BPL families in the State at 10.25 lakh. Civic bodies which conducted a survey at the behest of elected members had identified about 50 lakh families.

For, the members liberally granted BPL status to almost all families in their divisions for gaining political mileage. An official scrutiny had fixed it at 35 lakh and subsequently the crackdown was envisaged to weed out ineligible families.

Directives were issued to heads of departments to identify such cases and employees were told to voluntarily surrender the cards to avert disciplinary action.

Such steps did not yield the desired results and a large number of families in the Above Poverty Line category in 13 districts are enjoying an array of benefits aimed at the poor.

This would have a bearing on the statutory rationing scheme as well as the welfare schemes of the Centre such as Aashraya and Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS) and the education benefits due to the poor, sources said.

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