Never-ending fight against hunger

Athani Capstone Taluk

The ration cardholders of the Athani taluk are not receiving the essential grains at the government ration shops from more than one year.

By Archita Srivastava

Rekha K, a 52-year-old housewife walks 15km to the ration shop for the ratio. For more than a year she is only receiving rice. The other ration cardholders are miserable too as to why it is so.

“Previously we used to get wheat, daal, salt etc, but it has been a while they have stopped it all. Now they only give rice and kerosene oil. The shopkeeper says this is what is coming from the government,” said Rekha.

Most of the villagers in the taluk do not receive regular income like salaried employees. Most of them are engaged in ‘kolhapuri-chappal’ making or work in the fields. Thus, are dependent upon the government facilities and assistance, majorly on the government ration (Public Distribution System) to feed their families.

Raghvendra Shinde is one of those chappal makers who earn half of what he actually consumes and feeds his family anyhow.

“We are five people in the family, and this chappal making work feeds all of us. I don’t earn that much of profit out of these hand-making chappals that I could afford medium living style for my family. An year ago we used to get wheat, salt, edible oil, jowar and rice but now we are only receiving rice, and we do not know why,” said Raghvendra Shinde.

“The government should not end this distribution of ration as it is very helpful to all those who cannot afford grains from the market,” he further added.

The PDS at the ground level faces several demerits like irregular and poor quality of food grain distributed through Fair Price Shops, the storage facilities in India are not up to the mark. Hence, the foodstuff which is provided to the beneficiaries is inferior quality food grains; adulterated, spoiled or foul-smelling, corruption in ration shop is based on ration employees and black marketers. The improper functioning of the ration shops is other lag, as only 88 or fewer ration shops function in the taluk out of 121 shops.

Holi Khan Pathan, fair price shop manager stated, “The shops remain close sometimes because of the server error as now all the cards are digitalized or due to fewer consumers. Even we don’t have any clue about the halted supply of food grains other than rice; this is what we receive from the government.”

Apparently, the PDS system in Karnataka is witnessing numerous shortcomings, as the shops are not in function; the non-distribution of the essential commodities (food grains) etc is leading to the bigger muddle of malnutrition in the state.

The supervisor of the ICDS department stated about the measures being taken by the anganwadis to tackle the increasing rate of malnutrition, “We are trying to provide all kinds of diet and nutritional facilities to the children and mother through schemes like MatraPudna, Matru Shree, MatritvaSuraksha etc where high-risk pregnant mothers are provided with treatments in the PHCs. The most severe cases are referred to government hospital in the Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre,” said Savita .S Shatrimath.

Karnataka stands second in terms of malnutrition cases in India

The basic mission of the whole PDS system is to provide food grains at subsidized rate as the market rates are higher. But here, the whole lot of essential grain is missing from the distribution.

In contrary to what the villagers say, the tehsildar of the taluk claimed that the villagers don’t want the rest of the food grains apart from rice as it is free and also they kept on complaining about the poor quality of daal and wheat they received earlier, thus now they are only given rice.

The Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs department states that the current situation is a government decision. The Assistant Director of the department Shri  Shidram. Marihal stated, “Initially, we provided all the essential food grains, but due to lack of funds and as Karnataka government is providing free rice, 7 kg per head, while other states charge for 5kg per head, due to which the procurement of toor dal and extra rice is more, and hence, it acquires extra cost and it becomes a burden to the government that is why we curtailed the rest of food grains.”

The nation spends nearly 1.5% of its GDP on implementing the food security and maintaining the food supply to all, yet it is ranked 102 out of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2019.


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