1 crore 19 lakh people in J&K get subsidized ration: Zulfikar

‘After digitization, we removed 13 lakh fake entries from ration database’

Srinagar: The Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs has removed 13 lakh fake entries from its database of the ration distribution while under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) five lakh people from affluent class have been removed from getting subsidized ration.
In an exclusive interview with KNS, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali, said the department provided subsidized ration to 1 crore 19 lakh population of J&K while five lakh affluent class which include MLAs, ministers, bureaucrats and other gazetted officers and other riches have been removed from the database.
He said after the completion of digitization process, the department found 13 lakh fake entries which were removed from the database. “After digitization of records, we have achieved maximum transparency. I can’t assure 100 percent accuracy, but we have been able to streamline the system,” he said.
According to the minister, there was a huge gap between supply and demand, but after the implementation of NFSA and State government’s own supplementary scheme known as Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme (MMSFES), the state now has surplus food.
“People earlier raised concerns about the NFSA and staged protests. Even the Opposition and separatists raised concerns, but by the grace of God there is not even a single protest from anywhere,” he said.
He said the state used to get 63 lakh metric tonnes of food grains monthly against the demand of 83 lakh metric tonnes as per the 2001 census.
“Later we pursed the case with GoI and NFSA was also enacted. Now we have surplus food grains. We had examined the NFSA and found it a better option. Also we supplemented the NFSA with our own MMSFES, which put an additional burden of 411 crore on state exchequer. We buy the food grains at Rs 30 in the market and provide to people at Rs 15 per kilogram of rice under MMSFES,” Zulfikar said.
He said the common people have been the major beneficiaries of the NFSA as 74 lakh 13 thousand people get the rice at the rate of Rs 3 and Rs 2.
He said Mufti Mohammad Sayed during his tenure has told us that they could do anything possible but won’t let anyone to remain starved. “Then Mufti sahab left us. But on April 11, 2016, under Mehbooba Mufti’s leadership we implemented MMSFES for the people of our state to get additional quota of rice,” he told KNS.
He said the state is presently getting 11, 82,000 metric tonnes of food grains annually. “You won’t find a even a single protest anywhere. There is no shortage of food grains.
About the digitization of records, the minister said they have a complete data of 1 crore 25 lakh individuals of the state. “I think ours is the only department which maintains the record of entire population of state. We keep record of every individual,” he added.
Zulfikar also said the ration depots across the state have been equipped with computers and internet facility and anyone can check their records and available ration to their respective families.
He also said that they have used the GIS technology and all their ration depots and shops can be located while fitted GPS chips on vehicles and oil tankers to monitor their movement.
He also said that 14 lakh families have been so far linked with Aadhar and the process is continuing. “We are also installing Point of Sale machines on every ration shop. We have brought a lot of transparency in the system,” he said.
About sugar quote to the state, he said the subsidized sugar has been stopped by GOI to all the states, but in J&K, 74 lakh of our population still get subsidized sugar.
About the shortage of kerosene oil, he said the subsidized k-oil is for cooking purpose only and not for using as a fuel in spray motors. “The allocation of kerosene oil to J&K has been reduced because of huge penetration of LPG into the state.”
“At present 81 households have gas connections in our state. And the GOI says that that only 19 percent population in J&K need K-oil now,” he added.
The minister said they are still working on the ways and methods to control the extravaganza marriages. “It is so bad in our society. It is unislamic and also devoid of any merit. It is only a show off of wealth,” he said.
He said the High Court has stopped them from taking action against it and left it at the will of people to voluntary control over extravaganza. “We are still seriously pursuing the matter,” said Zulfikar. (KNS)

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