Consumers can now buy ration from any quota shop. But, some ration distributors are spreading fear that if the ration is taken from another shop, the consumer’s name will be taken off the list
“There is no need to fear ration card portability. Consumers can take ration from any quota shop; their name would not be struck off,” said additional food commissioner Sunil Kumar Verma.
Since the beginning of 2019, the ration card portability system has come into force in six districts of Uttar Pradesh — Kanpur City, Lucknow, Unnao, Barabanki, Hapur and Gautam Budh Nagar. Under this system, ration cardholders of these districts can avail ration from any quota shop in these six districts. The system was launched as a pilot project and has been implemented in 75 districts of the state in February.
Although the consumers of these districts are benefitted with this system, its biggest setback is the fear spread by the kotedars (ration distributions) that if the ration is taken from another place, the consumer’s name will be taken off from the quota shop and the ration will not be given further. So, fearing this, several consumers are not availing the facility even if they want to.
One such consumer is Suresh, who lives in Cheda village of Barabanki. Suresh took ration from the nearby quota shop in the month of January, but later he got to know that if he would take ration from the second quota shop, his name would be removed. “I don’t have my own land to till and am a poor labourer,” said Suresh, “The ration feeds my family. If they don’t get that too, how will we survive? So, from now on, I shall take ration only from the old quota shop which is right.”
More and more people have come to face this confusion about ration card portability. Sunil Kumar Verma, an additional food commissioner, also accepted that this exists. He said: “These people are deliberately spreading confusion because the portability of ration shops would make them function like an open market. Now that we have implemented the portability system throughout Uttar Pradesh and the consumer will be able to get ration from any of the 80,500 shops in the state. The kotedars fear losing their quota, as their shops may also be shut down if the customer does not come to their shops.”
According to the data on the website of the Department of Food and Logistics, Uttar Pradesh, there are about three crore ration cardholders in the state. About 13.4 crore people are drawing benefit from these ration cards. The responsibility for the distribution of ration in the state is with about 80,500 quota shops. The competition between these shops will also increase after the portability system is implemented across the state.
Verma explained: “We will constantly monitor Kotedar’s behaviour towards the people. If their ration cardholders are going to another shop in large numbers, it would mean that either there is some fault with their distribution or their behaviour. It might even be that they do not open their shops timely because it is often observed that many Kotedars are doing second business and are not focused upon Kotedari. In such a situation, if people are constantly going to take ration from another place, we have to close that shop.”
Talking about the confusion, he said, “Removing or adding names to the ration card lists is not in kotedar’s hands. No ration card can be nullified without verification. We see whether the consumer is collecting the ration or not, whether the card is linked to his Aadhaar card or not. Also, ration cards are nullified only after the field report. It is a long process. No one should be afraid that using the portability system will nullify their ration card.”
After the introduction of ration card portability in the state, the Department of Food and Logistics would endeavour to provide information to the consumers about the quota shop within the radius of five kilometres of their locality so that they know in which quota shop the ration is available. “We are working towards providing easy access to the information for our consumer,” explained Sunil Kumar Verma. “This will bring transparency.”