Punjab to extend ration card benefits to single mothers, people with HIV, cancer

It may be noted that, currently, the economic criteria are adopted to identify beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act.

ByAayush Goel

Published Dec 01, 2023 | 12:11 PMUpdatedDec 01, 2023 | 12:11 PM

Punjab Vidhan Sabha winter session

In a bid to widen the reach of ration card benefits, the Food and Civil Supplies Department is adding social factors like single mothers, persons afflicted with HIV, cancer and other similar problems for eligibility.

The enhancement of eligibility criteria will widen the number of beneficiaries according to the government.

It may be noted that currently, the economic criteria are adopted to identify beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act.

Sharing the information on the floor of the House during question hour of the two-day winter session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Lal Chand Kataruchak said at present, there were 1.57 crore beneficiaries in the state.

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Criteria for the ration card

All income tax, professional tax, and service taxpayers, households having over 2.5 acres of fertile land or over five acres of barren land, households owning motorised four-wheelers or air conditioners, households owning/operating an enterprise registered with the government, households having an annual family income of over ₹60,000 from all sources and households owning a house built on a plot area of 100 sq yard or more or a flat of 750 sq ft or more super area within the limits of municipal corporations or municipal councils in the state were not eligible for the ration card, the minister said.

He was replying to a question by Abohar MLA Sandeep Jakhar, who had pointed out that ineligible beneficiaries were drawing the benefits whereas the ration card of genuine persons had been cancelled.

He said officials of the department, instead of doing a field survey, cancelled the cards while sitting in their office. The decision was politically motivated.

The minister admitted that certain ration cards had been wrongly cancelled. Jakhar pointed out the case of an AAP worker from Abohar, who “despite being ineligible, had been issued a ration card”.

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Bills passed

Meanwhile, Punjab Vidhan Sabha unanimously passed six important Bills.

On the first day two money bills, the Punjab Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and Punjab Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (Amendment) Bill, 2023 were passed. Both the bills were passed after the prior approval of the Punjab Governor, Banwarilal Purohit.

It is pertinent to note that the Punjab Governor withheld the money bills and the government had approached the Supreme Court over the same.

The next day three bills, titled the Transfer of Property (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Registration (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Indian Stamp (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2023, were presented by Punjab Revenue Minister Bram Shanker Jimpa, while the fourth Bill, the Punjab Canal and Drainage Bill-2023, was presented by state water resources minister Chetan Singh Jouramajra.

This will ensure hindrance-free canal water to farmers and landowners for irrigation, maintenance, repair and timely cleanliness of canals, drainages and natural water courses. All six Bills were unanimously passed in the assembly during the two-day winter session.