There is no fixed time for stock arrival; no information either

The Government of Puducherry has a scheme to provide 15 kg of rice to persons with disabilities, but the supply of rice is reportedly irregular and beneficiaries are often not notified of the arrival of the rice.

There are 20,952 people with disabilities who benefit from the scheme. They would receive 15 kg of rice each free of cost every month from their local Balwadi.

Most parents of children with disabilities, however, complain that their rice supply is irregular and the weighing falls short. While some families receive 25 kg once in three months, in some areas they receive 25 kg every six months or so. Depending on the area, the supply is given at a different time and date. As there is no fixed time for the stock to arrive, most parents are unaware of the timing of stock arrival.

According to Chandrasekar, who has a son who is mentally challenged, the Balwadi at which they receive their rice does not inform them when the stock arrives. So far, they have received 25 kg three months ago and 30 kg of rice eight months before that. If there is some system through which information on arrival of rice is communicated, it would make it much easier, he said. It was difficult to keep going to the Balwadi to check if rice had arrived.

Another parent Ilango said they had to keep checking if rice was delivered. If they did not pick it up, it would be left to rot in a corner of the Balwadi and other children might tamper with the sack.

The Parents Association for Mentally Handicap and Spastic persons has taken up the issue with the Social Welfare Department, which is in charge of the distribution of rice. The department said it would look into the matter, but no action has been taken so far, Secretary of PAMHS Jeraldine Julian said.

Although some of the parents do not necessarily need the free rice, there are others who depend on it for survival.

Many families with disabled persons were unable to take care of their daily needs. For such families, 15 kg of rice would be of great help . Visiting the Balwadi unnecessarily was a huge inconvenience to these families.

Although for the most part the rice that was received was of good quality, sometimes the quality was so bad that it could not be consumed and people were even forced to throw it away, Ms. Julian said

When asked about the issue, an official from the Social Welfare Department said the problem was lack of funds. It cost close to Rs. 18 crore a year to supply rice to the beneficiaries as the cost of rice was Rs. 28 per kg. As and when the government released funds for the scheme, they were distributing the rice.

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