Baripada: The Centre has made a provision of COVID assistance for people with ration cards to alleviate their suffering during lockdowns and shutdowns. However, over 21,000 beneficiaries have not taken their assistance in Mayurbhanj district.
Each family with a ration card is entitled to get Rs 1000 each month. Official records say, ration card holders have been provided free rations like rice and wheat. During distribution of rations, the beneficiaries are supposed to be given such monetary benefits.
Various quarters have sniffed a scam in it and demanded a probe into non-payment of assistance to the beneficiaries.
Reports said, in view of the livelihood and normal activities being affected by the pandemic, the central government had provided funds four months ago to the families living below poverty line. Each beneficiary is supposed to get cash benefits directly.
According to official information, the district has 6,06,943 ration card holders in 26 blocks, two municipalities and two NACs.
It was learnt that all beneficiaries have been delivered their rations in the last four months while 21,033 beneficiaries have not received their monetary aid despite having received their rations.
The district civil supplies department has returned their assistance money worth Rs 20,9300 to the central government.
On the other hand, utilization certificates of delivered rations and assistance worth Rs 1.89 crore have not come from 13 blocks and two NACs.
Many youth leaders and social activists pointed out that if all beneficiaries were given rations, why 21033 beneficiaries were deprived of monetary assistance.
Rajesh Singh, a youth leader of Baripada, asked when all beneficiaries were given rations why were several thousands deprived of their entitled money.
There are lapses in the public distribution system, he added.
“These beneficiaries are suspected to be ghost ones while their rations worth lakhs of rupees have been looted. If the district administration carries out an investigation, all things will be clear,” Singh observed.
A case in point is 70-year old Banita Mukhi, a resident of ward-27 under Baripada municipality. She has been living a miserable life in a shanty. Sadly, she has not been able to get 5 kg free rice despite repeated complaints.
Laxmidhar Habda, a former councilor alleged that wealthy people are delivered rice, wheat, dal and financial assistance while the poor are deprived of their entitlements.
Suspecting it to be a scam, he said civil supplies officials are involved in it. He demanded an investigation into it.
District civil supplies officer Surendra Kumar Padhi said next steps will be taken in delivery of monetary assistance as per the direction of the Collector. There will be discussions with BDOs and executive officers about delivery of assistance he added.