Thiruvananthapuram: At least a lakh people applied for new ration cards between the COVID-hit period of March through July.
Officials numbers say only 75,000 cards of this had been activated. The application surge is being attributed to the government making ration cards mandatory for construction of houses under the Life scheme.
Also, more people sought to become ration beneficiaries due to the food kit and free ration distribution during the COVID-19 lockdown.
As on March 31, there were 87.92 lakh ration cards in the state. The number rose to 87.92 in August. Between April 1 and August 1, some 77,875 cards were ‘activated,’ as per statistics provided by the Food and Civil Supplies Department.
In April, 14, 537 cards got active. There was a slight decrease in May but the number again rose to 19,486 in June. In July, it was 42,808. The cards allotted till July 22 got activated on August 1.
The Food and Civil Supplies Department provides the statistics counted in till 22 of every month to the National Informatics Centre (NIC). A beneficiary starts getting ration after the NIC uploads the details to the electronic point of sale (e-POS) database. (This is generally called card activation). Usually, applications submitted till the 22nd of a month gets activated the next month. The taluk or city rationing offices process and issue cards on the basis of applications submitted through the Akshaya centres.
Beneficiaries have to pay an application fee and another fare when the card is printed and issued.
The processing of applications had taken a hit after officials at some of the city/taluk rationing offices turned COVID positive. The authorities had also asked citizens not to visit offices to collect cards.