Udupi: Irrational Wait for Ration Cards Evokes Public Ire
Daijiworld Media Network- Udupi (SM)
Udupi, Sep 27: From August this year, the deputy commissioner’s old office has been exclusively issuing the Udupi taluk-level ration cards at Bannanje. There are plans to renovate the building into a treasury office, and at the same time the government has planned to invest Rs 3 crore to construct a mini Vidhana Soudha after demolishing the taluk office building, where ration cards used to be issued earlier. Caught in between these plans are the public who are facing tough times.
The Karnataka food and civil supply and consumer affairs department has invited applications for fresh ration cards in the state and the facility is also available online.
The registration procedure for ration cards is a grueling task although here is no prescribed time limit for the application.
Udupi is not heavily populated, but the queues leading up to the registration office seem endless. When a person applies for a ration card, the expected time and return rate is unnecessarily delayed as the office creates hassles for the applicant. This is coupled with the fact that a huge crowd waits in line.
Jagdish Udyavar, who first approached daijiworld with this issue, said, "Those who have applied for a ration card through online channel would receive an SMS informing them that their card is ready for collection. But when they go to the old DC office to collect it, after waiting in long lines for several hours, they are told to bring their tax payment receipt, electricity bill and affidavit showing that they do not hold any other cards or to check if their names have been deleted for their old ration card etc."
What's worse, applicants have to stand in never-ending queues for hours together without even basic facilities like drinking water, fan or even a chair to sit on. Sairambha (65), an applicant from Barkur waiting to receive his ration card, was faint standing in the queue all day. His failing health made things worse, but he had no choice but to wait.
Another applicant, Laxmi Poojari (65) from Kokkarne, Udupi said, "I built a new house about five to six years back and since then I have been trying to apply for a ration card, but it’s no use. I am all alone, and running after this. My condition just worsens; I can’t stand for long especially in the long queue without any benches for people like us... it’s so suffocating here."
Laxmi also added that there was a mother with her two children in the queue, who, with no water facility at the office, offered her bottle of water."
Mamatha (40), an appicant from Brahmavar who has been visiting the office tirelessly since September 12 blamed the application system and its process. She told daijiworld, "There was a minor change in my husband’s name, but the officials want my husband’s photo and a letter from the panchayath for the same."
She was in tears while stating that even after providing all the required details she has not been allowed to submit the application and continues the long waits in the queue.
Sandeep (15) has been standing in the queue missing out on his classes. A student of Malpe PU College, he says, "I am standing in the queue since 7 in the morning, but I am fine with it. I am furious with how the government system functions. There are hundreds of people coming in here on a daily basis, but there are only two computer systems for this section and even lesser staff, so the work is delayed and the line is at a standstill."
Sushma (28) from Manipal blames the officials for not maintaining the queue system. She complains saying that although there are police surrounding the area they do not help in controlling the queues or even to maintain a balance in the crowd. Sushma says that she has been waiting in line from morning and her husband has called numerous times, but the line hadn't moved an inch from the time she joined in.
There are no other facilities and only the customary “may i help you” desk is available. However, on thorough scrutiny of help desk, it was learnt that the job of the receptionist is carried out by the public themselves.
Prasad Bhandari, a lecturer from Brahmavar questions as to why the public have to pay Rs 20 to the government, when they do not get the card laminated. “The officials are returning the card along with the lamination paper. We expected them to laminate as we pay for it," he added.
Considering the responsibilities of the panchayat members, they should provide and guide the public about the documents required for the ration card, but instead the panchayats only direct the applicants to the taluk office.
Questions arise as to the regulations and the responsibilities of the officials, and why the common man is always made to suffer.
Regarding these issues, food inspector Seetharam Shetty said that the office timing is 8.30 am to 9 pm and every day 150 to 200 cards are being delivered.
"A total of five computers are functioning, and the staff have not taken leave for weeks. The staff is sufficient, but the major problem is power supply," he added.
The food and tribunal section issues will be solved within 3 days. There is a token section constituted and with proper documents, the ration cards will be ready the very next day, he said.
"House tax and RR number is compulsory, if they don’t have these documents we send them back. We have to follow the rules. From September 15, not a single applicant has been sent back without the ration card. The staff return home at 8.30 pm or 9 pm, we are dedicated to our work”, he added.
Arun Kumar, deputy director (Food and Civil Supplies, Udupi Dist) said, “We had appealed through the media that the new ration card is a continuous process, one could apply for it at any time and maintaining a long queue is unnecessary. Ration cards are meant for ration purposes only but people have a wrong perception that it is an important document like the voter ID or passport."
He further said, "I agree that lamination is our duty but people who stand for a longer time get irritated to wait any further, so they choose to do it themselves instead."
He also added that during the ration card application process, it is the card holder’s responsibility to know the procedures, through the panchayat.
For any correction before taking the photograph of the card holder, the officials confirm if the information is right or wrong.
"We will provide the basic facilities at the earliest and a provisional fan will be placed," he assured.