New Delhi, May 19: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday directed the chief secretary of Mizoram to submit an action taken report on denial of foodgrain to Chakma villagers.
NHRC was hearing a complaint filed by the director of Rights and Risks Analysis Group, Suhas Chakma. The commission also directed the Centre, states and union territories to ensure that at least 30.8 crore beneficiaries of PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) are not deprived of their entitlements due to problems due to problems with biometric authentication during the pandemic.
Suhas had said the Chakma villagers of Vasei and Damdep Godown in Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district have been denied the right to food under the PM scheme despite they having Aadhaar cards and ration cards.
“As per the procedure established under the National Food Security Act, biometric authentication i.e. fingerprints of the Aadhaar Card/ration card holders with the UIDAI is mandatory. This mandatory requirement, in the prevailing circumstances, exposes beneficiaries and the ration dealers at serious risk of acquiring Covid-19 infection,” he had said in his complaint.
Suhas had requested suspension of the biometric authentication of Aadhaar card of the ration card holders.
“The Computerization of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), no doubt, is aimed at ensuring food security of the people, especially the poor and vulnerable sections, by eliminating the shortcomings such as leakages and diversion of foodgrains, inclusion and exclusion errors in identification of beneficiaries, etc but the lack of availability of internet /mobile connectivity to end users who are residing at far-flung/remote areas is also to be looked into. What is of paramount interest in these grave pandemic times, is to ensure that the beneficiaries of PMGKAY Scheme are not deprived of their entitlements,” NHRC said in its order.
NHRC directed the chief secretary of Mizoram to submit action taken report on the issue of denial of benefits to the Chakma villagers within one week. The report should clearly specify the steps taken by the district administration to mitigate the hardship of the villagers. It further asked DIG (Investigation), NHRC, to collect facts from state/district administration on phone within three days.