Scales that Lie: PDS Corruption in Madhupur, Jharkhand

As Lalita Devi stands in line at the local Fair Price Shop to get her monthly ration she watches the scales weigh down with rice. The container should weigh 35 kgs but falls shy. To add insult to injury, she is asked to pay Rs 40 instead of the stipulated Rs 35. She argues with Chandni Devi, the shop owner but is told to walk away if she doesn’t want to take the 30 kgs. In Bhidva village, Madhupur District Jharkhand, people are being cheated out of their rations.  Bhidva is not alone. Reports suggest that around 23.22 lakh families in Jharkhand live below poverty line and cannot afford food for 6-9 months of the year. The Global Food Security Index 2012 reveals that India has 224.6 million undernourished people. Schemes like the Antyodaya Anna Yojana have been implemented to combat precisely this scenario. The scheme is targeted at the poorest of the poor families and gives rice and wheat at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg to them. But what happens when those responsible for ensuring correct distribution cheat those most in need of the assistance? Our Correspondent Mukesh Rajak alleges that there are many more people in the village who are being cheated. None however want to speak up. “I think they might be scared that if they raise a voice against this, their ration cards might be taken away and they wont get the grains they are currently getting. The woman at the shop denies the allegations against her.” Says Mukesh. “At the moment she has promised that she will start giving out the correct amounts at the correct price but it remains to be seen whether it will happen.”

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