Below Poverty Line villagers in Cuttack district are constantly cheated of their allotted rations.
Sarita told us at VV that this was the hardest video she has made so far. She faced opposition and threats from the ration card dealers while shooting, and they stoutly refused to give her an interview. They even warned her that they would go to the police and report her interference. The villagers did not want to speak on camera about what was going on out of fear that their rations would be further cut.
So Sarita took the DVD we had sent her with IndiaUnheard videos from the previous month and showed them to her neighbours and other villagers. The result of this proactivity was that when Sarita went to confront the corrupt ration card dealers, she was supported by the other villagers who had come there at the same time. After seeing her, they were also more willing to share what was happening.
These people are poor. Under the BPL scheme, they are entitled to subsidized foods and fuel. To benefit from this scheme, those who are eligible have to submit their applications, duly attested by the Municipal Councillor or Village Council Head, two photographs and an affidavit. Once they have their cards, they should receive a specified amount of sugar, rice, wheat, kerosene, etc, per month. As we saw with Sunita's video on the same topic last week, there is corruption at every level. People are forced to pay bribes to get their ration cards, then they have to pay to get their rations.
Clearly, something is wrong. Sarita says she can use this video to garner support and mobilize the villagers into going as a group to the Village Council Head. First, she would need to explain to all the BPL families what they are supposed to be getting, and in what quantities. Then she can organize a petition to be signed and taken to the higher authorities, such that the corrupt ration card dealer can be replaced.
The villagers, whenever they raise their voices, were always pushed down and shooed away, the local police started harassing them, sometimes even arresting them on flimsy issues.
The basic facilities for a quality living are missing in this Model Village of Bhauro.