Even after so many years of independence, almost half of the people of Chandarpara village in Jharkhand do not have a ration card. The villagers claim that they have tried every possible way to get a ration card but the “deaf” government is not ready to even look into the matter.
Chandarpara lies a few kilometres to the west of the Ishaqpur panchayat of Pakur district in Jharkhand. About 3,500 people reside in the village, but not even half of the villagers have their ration card.
The Logical Indian spoke to a few people from the village to understand their problem. Muzaffar Hussain (42), a social worker and a member of the audit teams for governmental schemes in the district, told us that, at the time of 2011 census, only half of Chandarpara was included in the census data, the other half was left out.
“The villagers who were left in the census were left without the ration card as well. Since then people have not just gone to District Station office (DSO), but they have made several visits to minister’s office, but all efforts went in vain,” says Muzaffar.
At present Bharatiya Janata Party is ruling the state, led by Chief Minister Raghubar Das. Chandarpara village does not have many resources of industrial employment. Most of the male members in the village look for daily wage work. The women in almost every house roll bidi (tobacco rolled in dried tendu leaves) to get at least some money for their daily bread.
Muzaffar told us that the people have their Below Poverty Line (BPL) card, Aadhar card and voter ID card but still have not received a ration card from the government. A few villagers also applied online to get a ration card, but only disappointment came their way. The villagers who had written to Zilla officers and the Food minister to urge them to take action are still waiting for a response.
Muzaffar says that only at the time of the election, the politicians come to the village and once the elections are over these politicians do not even care to look at the village.
“During the last Lok Sabha election, the villagers also boycotted the election. Black flags were raised in protest, all this made headlines in the news, but that did not change the condition of our village,” he added.
As the ration card problem is not new for the people of Chandarpara, to give some assistance to the villagers, the local mosque has made a fund where families who can afford to buy food put in money and rice. The locals who are unable to make ends meet can ask for the some of the funds from the mosque.
63-year-old, Quddu Shaikh, who is also a resident of the village says that he has applied for ration card a lot of time, but each time the officer asked him to apply for another time.
“I am old. I can’t even do daily wage work, I have to depend on the Mosque fund for my monthly ration. The west Chandarpara people have their ration card so they can easily avail the ration, but this (eastern Chandarpara) side of the village is dying in hunger,” says the father of five children.
Mushra is a 35-year-old widow, who lost her husband 12 years ago. Till now, she has neither received a ration card, nor her widow pension.
We asked Muzaffar Hussain if the people who have ration card get proper ration or not. He said that according to the government rule, every individual is supposed to get five kg per person in a month but 250 grams is deducted from each person’s portion.
“The distributors tell us that they don’t have enough ration for all of us and that is why they deduct that 250 grams from our portion. People don’t even get sugar and salt in their ration. The problem is that the people here are illiterate, they do not know the laws, and where to complain about the problems, that is why reports of corruption like these do not get acknowledged,” he laments.
The Logical Indian also spoke to the Circle Officer of Chandarpara, Prashant Nayak who is responsible for the registration of ration card holders. He says that the people need to apply online for the ration card. When we asked about the people who have applied online, why they did not get their ration card, he said the process is lengthy. He also said that they (officials) would have to first cancel the ration card of the people who now fall in the Above Poverty Line then only they will provide new ration cards.
The village is still suffering because of demonetisation
According to Muzaffar, the bidi business has suffered significant loss since Demonetisation. He says that there is a dip in the demand, the bidi worker who used to sell at least two lakh bidis a month are now only selling 75,000 bids. “Here most of the businesses are small scale, from the time of “note bandi” a lot of people have lost their livelihood,” he added.
“Sarkar bolti hai ache din aayenge, par achhe did sirf punjipati ke liye aye, garib aj bhi usi garibi me maar raha hai (the government said that Achhe Din would come, but only the rich got benefits from the government, the poor are still dying in poverty,” said Muzaffar with a grief.
The Logical Indian take
We urge the authorities and the state government to look into this matter. We fail as a society everytime a person dies of starvation.