Actions to curb illegal below poverty line (BPL) ration card holders in the district will be taken by the district administration. Deputy commissioner, S B Bommanahalli has warned of lodging criminal cases against such illegal beneficiaries if the cards are not surrendered immediately.
The food and civil services department had given deadline of September 30 to illegal beneficiaries to surrender their cards. Until the last date, as many as 1,054 families have voluntarily surrendered the cards. Shockingly a majority of them are servants.
The district administration has estimated that the number of illegal BPL card holders will be more than a lakh and has decided to act tough. In a release, Bommanahalli has stated that illegal beneficiaries of BPL and Antyodaya cards can still return their cards by paying a minimum fine. He added that criminal cases would be lodged if illegal beneficiaries are traced by officials.
According to sources in the food and civil supply department, there are 62,000 above poverty line (APL) cards in the district while the number of BPL cards is 11 lakh. The district having the highest number of BPL card holders is always a topic of discussion among officials and politicians but no action has been initiated so far.
The department had announced a Rs 400 reward to those who provide information about illegal beneficiaries. But no one has come forward with a tipoff so far even though the government has assured that the name of the informant would be kept secret.
“The government is giving 35kg free rice to help economically weak families. But some of the economically sound families are taking advantage of this by providing wrong information about their financial status and are deceiving the government. Now, action is being initiated against such beneficiaries,” said Syeda Afrina Banu Ballari, deputy director of food and civil supply department.
Official sources said a fine will be imposed on illegal card holders based on the date on which they were issued a BPL or Antyodaya card. There is also a provision to lodge a criminal case if the beneficiary is using the card illegally for several years.
The BPL or Antyodaya cards will be converted into APL cards immediately after they are surrendered. By September 30, 261 illegal beneficiaries from Chikkodi taluk surrendered their cards followed by 150 from Raibag, 127 from Gokak and 109 from Savadatti taluk.