Jharkhand death: Minister cancels official’s order on linking Aadhaar to ration cards, says report

Jharkhand’s Minister of Food and Public Distribution Saryu Roy on Saturday cancelled an instruction issued by the state’s chief secretary on the linking of the Aadhaar card to ration cards, The Indian Expressreported on Sunday. Roy’s order follows the death of a child in Jharkhand’s Simdega district on September 28 after her family was denied food rations because they did not have an Aadhaar-linked ration card.

On October 18, Roy had said the directive issued by Jharkhand Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma may have “created confusion” and led to some cards being cancelled. Attempts to contact Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma for his reaction failed, the English daily reported.

The minister said people could show any government approved identity document to avail of ration benefits under the pubic distribution system. “It is clear that the direction issued by the chief secretary on March 27 to the department Secretary is in contravention of the directions already issued by the Government of India and, therefore, it is liable to be annulled,” the English newspaper quoted his order as saying.

Roy’s order quotes a February 8 circular, issued by the Union Ministry of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, that had said nobody would be denied ration benefits if their documents were not linked with Aadhaar. The minister said the government’s order proved its sensitivity to ensure that beneficiaries get their ration and accused the officers responsible of an “acute lack of sensitivity”.

Twenty days after 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari’s death, Chief Minister Raghubar Das asked for a report on the matter on October 17.

In February, the central government had made Aadhaar compulsory for access to subsidised food grain through the Public Distribution System.

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