Believe it! Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country where if you legally apply for getting ration card you won't get one. But if you choose to grease the palms of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) department officials you can easily get the document.
Reason: The decision of the state government to put blanket ban on issuance of new ration cards to consumers in 2001 has provided an open field to "unscrupulous elements and corrupt officials of CAPD to run the murky business of issuing fake ration cards in lieu of bribe."
Sources said the scam of fake ration cards has largely remained unnoticed with government failing to take action against CAPD officials allegedly involved in issuing and printing fake ration cards which are then passed to gullible consumers for monetary considerations.
Since 2001 state's CAPD department has put an embargo on issuance of ration tickets to citizens, citing lesser allocation of food grains as per census 2001. But during last one decade population of Jammu and Kashmir has increased from 1,01,43,700 in 2001 to 1,25,48,926 in 2011 which subsequently has resulted in surge of families requiring separate ration tickets.
The ration cards are perquisites for getting subsidized ration and food grains from CAPD under Public Distribution System and it is an important document of address proof required for various documentation purposes.
"As official means of getting ration tickets is closed, the unscrupulous elements, touts in collaboration with CAPD officials have thrived on issuing fake ration tickets in lieu of sums ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per ration card during last decade," said a senior CAPD official.
"In Jammu and Kashmir, concept of nuclear families has significantly evolved which has resulted in growing demand of separate ration tickets for separate households. But the state government has categorically stated that they won't issue ration tickets till government of India allocates food grains to state as per 2011 census," he said. "Unscrupulous elements in collaboration with officials of CAPD mostly working in the field have been running the murky business of issuing fake ration tickets which has flourished without government taking any action against the guilty officials."
"Although several officials of CAPD were arrested by Vigilance department but by and large there has not been any proper action which could act as deterrent for them," he said.
As per estimates of CAPD, there are 5.72 lakh families without ration cards in the state with 2.05 lakh in Jammu division and 3.01 lakh in Kashmir division under all categories- APL, BPL and AAY. Currently the state receives monthly allocation of food grains to the extent of 63067 metric tons as per census of 2001 while as the total requirement of food grains is 79567 metric tons to cover the population as per 2011 census.
"The state is facing monthly shortfall of 16500 metric tons of food grains and there is increase of approximately 25 lakh souls since census of 2011 that are not covered under subsidized ration," the report of CAPD reads.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Director CAPD, Bilal Ahmad, confirmed that there is an embargo on issuance of new ration tickets to consumers in JK. "Due to shortfall in allocation in ration from centre government, we are not issuing ration cards. JK is getting food grains as per 2001 census and if we start giving ration cards our shortfall will further increase," Ahmad explained.
When asked about fake ration tickets, the Director stated: "There are some unscrupulous elements that are indulging in printing replica of CAPD ration cards and then passing it to consumers for money. But in order to tame them, we have squads for checking the issuance of fake ration tickets and if anybody has any complaint he could contact our office."