Discussion on ration card issuance turns tense at Budget Session

Shillong, May 22: Congress MLA from Mawsynram H M Shangpliang, on Thursday, raised the issue of 1 Lakh pending ration card applications in the Assembly, and accused the Food and Civil Supplies department of not taking any action.

He informed that he had held a review meet with headmen from his constituency, who told him that there were many villagers who do not have ration cards, and were facing severe problems.

Similarly, Umroi MLA George Lyngdoh also added that 35-40% of households in many villages say they don’t hold any Public Distribution System (PDS) card and can’t avail benefits from the schemes, especially in a time of crisis.

Lyngdoh also said that according to the 2011 census, 98.4% of the state population were beneficiaries of government schemes like, AAY, PHH, NFSA, Non-NFSA etc., however, there was huge disparity on the ground.

Replying to this, Food and Civil Supplies Minister James Sangma said that the fresh applications for ration cards can only be added into the system in the 2021 census survey.

He said that guidelines and procedures have been laid down in the National Food and Security Act and that the government can’t deviate from the rules. However, he added that food grains were made available to people through the open market system.

In response, Shangpliang said that instead of giving an alternative solution, the minister has simply “clarified that nothing can be done for people stranded without rice.”

Sangma clapped back saying that the government believes in “following rules”. He said, “It is wrong on the part of the MLA to say that we didn’t do anything… this was a challenging situation and he wants to politicise the situation.”

“I don’t want him to get emotional,” Shangpliang slammed back and added, “We are in a position where we can’t do anything.”

Following this, the Food and Civil Supplies Minister said that they will ensure all the ration card applicants are added in the system with the new census. He also said that those who are not covered under NFSA & Non-NFSA Act will be provided grains through the Atmanirbhar Bharat Scheme.

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