An RTI query has unearthed a major scam in the Public Distribution System, as many as 42 lakh bogus ration cards have been issued in Maharashtra leading to large scale theft of food grain.
A PIL in the Bombay High Court has alleged grains meant for the state’s poor are being offloaded on to the wrong hands. The petition filed by a member of Anna Hazare’s anti corruption NGO quotes RTI data showing more than 42 lakh bogus ration cards issued in the state between 1995 and 2009.
Lawyer of the petitioner Ashish Gaikwad said, “We want strict action against the officers and fair price shop owners, it is not just about cancellation, the losses to the government should also be recovered.”
The scam unraveled after several complaints alleging misappropriation by 32 ration shops in Solapur’s Barshi Taluka. A government inquiry was set up for identification and cancellation of bogus cards.
The government inquiry report accessed by CNN-IBN shows a gross lack of accountability and disregard of standard procedures by the Tahsil officers.
The report clearly states the investigation is incomplete as the Tahsildar’s office did not provide the necessary documents. The report states cards were issued without following government directives.
Stock registers were not properly maintained and there were no official signatures accompanying the entries. Records of cards issued were frequently altered without consulting senior officials.
Despite the scathing report, no action was taken against the officers concerned. Further RTI queries revealed a state wide problems, the petition pegs a rough estimate of grains of over Rs 25000 crores being siphoned off. The Bombay high court has now directed the state to file a detailed affidavit by January 13, stating the action to be taken against the concerned officials.

By Anupama

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