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Congress attacks Haryana Family ID scheme as Khattar govt says 8L found ineligible for ration-card benefits

Chandigarh: The loss of ration card benefits for over 8 lakh families in Haryana has kicked up a political storm in the state, with the Opposition accusing the Manohar Lal Khattar government of arbitrarily leaving out the poor from the public distribution system (PDS).

According to Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Singh Chautala’s statement in the state assembly Monday, 8.41 lakh people have lost pink-card and yellow-card benefits after they were found “ineligible”.  

Government rules say green cards are issued to above-poverty-line families (APL), yellow is for below poverty line (BPL), and pink is for the poorest of the poor, who are eligible for the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

At the centre of the row is the Parivar Pehchan Patra (PPP) or the Family ID, the state government’s flagship e-governance scheme.

The BJP-led government claims that the PPP scheme, which is governed by the Haryana Parivar Pehchan Patra Act of 2021, is to promote the paperless delivery of welfare services.

The Opposition Congress, however, accuses the government of deliberately denying the state’s poor not only PDS benefits but also their old-age pensions, via PPP. 

Speaking to ThePrint over the phone Wednesday, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda claimed that he had received complaints that several people had been deliberately left out of the PDS scheme by “quoting exaggerated income figures”. People are also being denied their pensions on the same ground, he said.      

“People living in miserable conditions complain that their ration cards have been discontinued saying that their family income shown in PPP is in several lakhs,” Hooda said. “In addition, people have told me their old-age pension has been discontinued citing incorrect figures of their income. Over 5 lakh people have lost their old-age pension because of this.” 

Responding to a question in Vidhan Sabha Monday, Dushyant Chautala said the ration card holders were found ineligible on the basis of the data provided by the Citizen Resources Information Department (CRID).

The CRID is a Haryana government department responsible for the implementation of the PPP scheme. 

Also Read: Why Modi govt’s rejig of food subsidy bill is as much good politics as it is sound economics

What is the PPP?

According to the Haryana government, the PPP is meant to “create authentic, verified and reliable data of all families in Haryana”. 

“PPP identifies each and every family in Haryana and keeps the basic data of the family, provided with the consent of the family, in a digital format,” the state government’s official website for the Family ID says. 

Each family will be provided an eight-digit Family ID, which will be linked to the birth, death, and marriage records “to ensure automatic updation of the family data as and when such life events happen”, the website says. 

The ID will, among other things, be linked to independent schemes like scholarships, subsidies, and pensions “to enable the automatic selection of beneficiaries of various schemes, subsidies, and pensions”. 

“The data available in the Family ID database will be used to determine eligibility through which automatic self-selection of beneficiaries will be done for receiving benefits,” the website says.  

“Therefore, once the database of families is created, families need not then apply to receive benefits under each individual scheme. Further, once the data in the PPP database is authenticated and verified, a beneficiary will not be required to submit any more documents,” says the website. 

In his address during the Haryana assembly budget session, Governor Bandaru Dattatreya said that the government was going to increase PPP’s scope to cover all government databases and schemes. 

Earlier this month, the Khattar government claimed that Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath government was considering implementing a similar scheme. 

‘Poor assessment criteria’

The old-age pension is a social security scheme under which senior citizens over 60 are given an ‘Old Age Samman Allowance’.

According to the conditions laid down by the government, the pension is given to people whose annual income from all sources doesn’t exceed Rs 2 lakh a year, provided the person doesn’t receive a pension from any government or local statutory body.

In his response to a question in the Vidhan Sabha, Chautala said 8,41,817 people were found ineligible for ration card benefits in December 2022 because their family incomes exceeded the limit for the PDS.

In order to be eligible for yellow cards, Chautala said, the family’s annual income should be less than Rs 1.80 lakh and that, for a pink card, one had to be at the bottom of the list of those with less than that income. 

Despite Hooda’s claims on old-age pensions, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, in answer to another question the same day, had said that, as on 13 March, the old-age pension of 22,198 people stood discontinued on the basis of the PPP data.

Criticising the Khattar government, Hooda said that the lack of an objective criterion for assessing family income was to blame for the problem. “When I was chief minister, self-declaration was sufficient proof,” he told ThePrint.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: E-tender is CM Khattar’s new mantra. Haryana sarpanches call it attack on ‘village culture’

Source: The Print

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