Bhopal: As a 10-day lockdown has been imposed in the capital of Madhya Pradesh after a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, an organisation working for victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy claimed that gas-hit victims are in fear of starvation.
The organisation claimed that more than 20,000 people--majority of them being BGT victims--who avail government benefits like food grain under BPL card, health care schemes, pension, etc. were deleted from the Samagra Samajik Suraksha Mission (SSSM) database.
The Gas Peedit Nirashit Pension Bhogi Sangathan Morcah met with Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bisahullal Singh and handed over a letter claiming that not only were the names removed from the Samarga database in February 2020, but the BPL card database hasn’t been updated since last two years. The move has left many families fearing for survival in the midst of the pandemic.
The SSSM is an initiative of Madhya Pradesh Government to track and provide help to weaker sections of the society in terms of pension, marriage assistance, food security, scholarship, health, etc. Those who have Samarga id can avail benefits of state’s pro-poor policy at one place.
The letter written by Balkrishan Namdeo of Gas Peedit Nirashit Pension Bhogi Sangathan Morcha to the Food and Civil Supplies Department Minister Bisahulal Singh said, “The deletion of names has put many widows, gas-hit victims, physically handicapped and deprived families on the verge of starvation, especially when there is no work due to the lockdown.”
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The letter further said that even after two years of getting BPL cards many cardholders haven’t received the ‘Khand Patra Parchi’ (Ration eligibility slip) through which they can avail BPL card benefits because the Food and Civil Supplies Department and National Informatics Centre (NIC) haven’t updated the database since 2018.
“Many of the BPL cardholders are aged and their fingerprints aren't matching in the Point of Sale machine. As a result, the shop owners are denying them the monthly ration. They have been left to die,” Namadeo said, adding that, “The department should find an alternate way for such BPL card holders.”
When contacted, District Food Controller Jyoti Shah Narwariya said, “15,000 names of those who haven’t availed the ration in the last six months had been deleted in January. They might be dead or migrated to other places.”
As far as Khand Patra Parchi is concerned, she said, “A total of 1,500 names have been updated recently and beneficiaries will get their food slips by August first week. Besides, for those people whose fingerprints are mismatching in the point of sale machine, we have issued a directive to the shop owners and asked to take Aadhar cards of such people and give them monthly ration.”
Nearly 3 lakh families comprising 15 lakh people have been getting ration in Bhopal every month, she added.
State Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bisahulal Singh was unavailable for comment.