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Delhi HC questions need for ration card to avail aid

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    12th Aug, 2022

Context

As the below poverty line (BPL) cancer patient was denied financial aid under the Rashtriya Aarogya Nidhi (RAN) for lack of a ration card, the Delhi high court seeks a plea regarding the issue questioning the government’s stand on availing aid for poor.

The issue

  • According to the government criteria, the person for availing the benefits under schemes for poor and vulnerable, it is mandatory to have ration cardsmentioning their status to be below poverty line (BPL).
  • If the person is unable to present their ration cards, they are not liable for other schemes also.

About

About the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) Scheme

  • Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN)is a centrally sponsored scheme, aims at providing financial assistance to the patients who live under the poverty line.
  • The scheme covers patients suffering from diseases that are identified as life-threatening.
  • As a part of this scheme, patients can avail of medical treatment at any hospital or institute providing super-speciality facilities or at any other government hospital.
  • It provides financial assistance to people belonging to BPL (below poverty line) group.

Delhi High Court’s stand

  • The Delhi High Court questioned the requirement of a ration card for a citizen to avail financial benefits under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN).
  • The mandate under RAN to provide a ration card, besides an income certificateis said to be one of such document is not sufficient to prove the financial status and is “arbitrary, discriminatory, unconstitutional, illegal, and irrational.”
  • It also stated that the Centre has not extended the new ration cards beyond the limit of 72, 77,995 persons.

What are the provisions of issuing ration card to person belonging to BPL?

  • Criteria are different for the rural and urban areas.
  • In its Tenth Five-Year Plan, the degree of deprivation is measured with the help of parameters with scores given from 0–4, with 13 parameters.
  • Families with 17 marks or less(formerly 15 marks or less) out of a maximum 52 marks have been classified as BPL.
  • Poverty line solely depends on the per capita incomein India rather than level of prices.

Below poverty line (BPL)

  • In India, in the year 2011, the poverty line was defined by the Suresh Tendulkar Committee.
  • It was determined on the basis of monthly expenses on food, education, health, transport and electricity.
  • According to this committee, a person who is spending Rs. 33 a day in urban areas and only Rs. 27 a day in rural areas live below the poverty line.\

Other criteria for BPL

  • It was stipulated that the calorie standard for a typical individual in rural areas was 2400 calorie and was 2100 calorie in urban areas.
  • Then the cost of the grains (about 650 g) that fulfil this normative standard was calculated. This cost was the poverty line.
  • In 1978, it was Rs.61.80per person per month for rural areas and Rs.71.30 for urban areas.
  • And Since then the Planning Commission calculates the poverty line every year adjusting for inflation. The poverty line in recent years is as follows – (Rs. per month per head)

Year

India

 

Rural

Urban

2000–2001

328

454

2005–2006

368

558

2011–2012

816

1000

  • This income is bare minimum to support the food requirements and does not provide much for the other basic essential items like health, education etc.
  • That is why some times the poverty lines have been described as starvation lines.

Why few are not deprived of ration cards?

  • Some eligible people deprived of ration cards, some ineligible persons included is the harsh reality in India.
  • Ration card is considered to be an essential legal document in India that is used for identity and address verification. Ration card also often used as an identification proof while applying for domicile certificateincome certificate, driver’s license, PAN card, etc.
  • The National Food Security Act (NFSA)is the law of the land and we are issuing cards to the beneficiaries according to the provision.

Schemes that mandate ration cards

  • National Food Security Act, 2013
  • Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (PM-AWAS)
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