TAMIL NADU

People throng meal centres to apply for ration cards

CHENNAI, JUNE 1. There is a virtual gatecrash at anganwadis and noon-meal centres in the State following the Government announcement that people who do not have ration cards can submit their applications at these centres from today.

According to officials, anganwadi and noon-meal centre employees are directed to receive the applications.

The last date for the receipt of application is June 30 and new cards will be distributed to applicants from August, after verification.

The applicants should submit proof of their residence along with the application. Even if they fail to produce proof, their applications will not be rejected but they will be given cards after verification.

Being the first day, hundreds of people, carrying filled-in forms in duplicate, thronged the anganwadis and noon-meal centres. In many places petty traders made quick money selling printed applications at Rs. 10 each, though handwritten and typed applications are accepted. In some places, application sellers insisted on the applicants affixing a one-rupee court fee stamp on the forms lest their forms, saying these would be rejected other wise.

The officials said there was no need for any court fee stamp. The applicants are expected to submit their forms in duplicate along with two photographs with proof of their residence.

They said though the government move was to issue new cards to those who did not have them so far, there was a possibility that these would be misused by "unscrupulous elements." They suspected that the existing cardholders would try to get additional cards, giving false names, which in turn would lead to circulation of bogus cards. They said the government weeded out 16 lakh bogus cards in the last three years after much difficulty. The present exercise, they feared, would once again bring in bogus cards.