Thrissur: The Civil Supplies Department in Kerala has suspended the licence of two ration shops after it found that they had siphoned off subsidised rice, wheat and kerosene using the ration cards of two deceased persons.
One of those ration shops is in Chalakudy in Thrissur district while the other was in Piravom in Kottayam district. The department has also sought explanation from 22 ration shops in Chalakudy for similar offences.
The Piravom licencee had likely siphoned off 2 ton rice using the cards of two deceased persons over a long period. Rationing inspector found out two cards in the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) category from the table of this ration shop licence.
Larger scam likely
The department is planning to announce a state-wide probe into similar incidents. There are nearly 1,000 deceased persons in each district with ration cards in their names.
The assessment of the Civil Supplies Department is that a sizable number of such cards are still being used by ration shop owners for diverting ration articles.
The scam has been unearthed even after notices were served on ration shops which had not informed the death of the card holder even after four years.
How the scam worked
The licencees running the fairprice shops had siphoned off in the black market commodities that were shown as sold to card holders who were in fact deceased.
The cards which were used to siphon off the ration articles were those which had listed only a single member as beneficiaries. When this person died, the ration shop owners siphoned off the ration articles using the manual mode of supply without entering them in the E-Pos machine.
Most of such malpractices have been using cards in the AAY and BPL categories. AAY card owners are eligible for 35 kg rice, 5 kg wheat, 0.5 litre kerosene and 1 kg sugar free of cost every month. The Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders have to pay only a nominal amount for ration commodities.
The ration shop licencees engaged in the malpractice believing there was no mechanism in the Civil Supplies Department to track the details of dead people who held cards showing a single member.
BPL ration cards are issued to households living below the poverty line, whereas AAY cards are for providing highly subsidised food to poorest families.