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Phase I of the verification drive will end on January 31. Ration cards of high-income consumers will be verified in the second phase.
The Maharashtra government has extended the deadline for ration card verification to 31 January 2010. However, ration cards issued to high-income consumers have been exempted from the ongoing survey, said Anil Deshmukh, minister for food, civil supplies and consumer protection.
“The white cards (issued to high-income consumers) have been left out from the first phase of verification and will be taken up in the second phase,” said Mr Deshmukh. Stating the reason for not including the white ration cards in the first phase, he said, “There is a lot of processing load and hence the yellow and orange ration cards are being covered in the first phase.”
The government issues three different cards to consumers. The yellow-coloured ration cards are issued to persons in the ‘below poverty line’ category, while the orange-coloured cards are issued to people in the ‘above poverty line’ category. The white-coloured ration cards are issued to people in the high-income group with an annual income of above Rs1 lakh and who also own a four-wheeler and more than four hectares of land.
Around four years back, a similar exercise was undertaken by the state government. The minister, however, categorically said that the earlier exercise was meant for the computerisation of ration cards and should not be confused with the ongoing verification drive.
On being questioned why the computerisation drive was abandoned half way, the minister said, it would be re-started “very shortly”.
“Very shortly means we will first float the tender, call the concerned party and then the concerned party will conduct the process,” he clarified.
The verification drive for ration cards was started on 1 December 2009. However, the process was marred by a number of glitches, including citizens not being given receipts after filing application forms for the verification. On this, the minister said, “Such people will be given their receipts.”
This verification drive is now being publicised through advertisements in the newspapers, which wasn’t the case when it was started on 1st December.
Speaking about the main reason for not advertising on a large scale, Mr Deshmukh said, “Earlier, the local ration shops were a little reluctant due to the expected load the process would create. Now that we have decided that the white cards will be verified in the second phase, the load has been reduced. In Mumbai and Thane alone, the load of 6.5 lakh (white) cards has been reduced.”