Wagholi Quarry Workers, Wagholi stone quarry workers do not get ration due to failure to record fingerprints biometrics. IG News

Pune : Prahlad Vithkar, a stone quarry worker, has been struggling for the last four years to get free ration from the fair price shop. But they still haven’t succeeded. Witkar has been doing stone breaking for decades. Therefore, the fingerprints of this 68-year-old senior citizen have been erased. As these prints are erased, the local ration shop refuses to give them their grain quota. Because government authorized ration shops have biometric scanners. Ration shop owners have to undergo biometric process with the help of Tehsil Supply Office which distributes food grains. These scanners store biometrics data. As the fingerprints of Vitekars are erased, no data of them is stored and that is the real problem. All those who want ration grains have to save their biometrics records. After that, they have to go to the fair price shop every month to buy grain. Orange ration cards have been distributed to six members of Vitkar’s family. Based on that they are entitled to get two kg of wheat and three kg of rice free per person. However, they have to buy grain from the market.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaa…! What did he do in the happiness of getting paid?, he did something that he kept rolling in the gutter for two days, finally…
Vitkar informs that, ‘When I first went to the ration shop, my biometric process could not be completed. They told me that my fingerprints were damaged.’

Wagholi stone miners do not get ration

Every month, Vitkar visits the ration shop and tries to get his fingerprints scanned. But it is of no use. The ration shop owner does not give me my ration and I return home dejected. “I don’t know what to do and who to contact,” Witkar said.

It’s amazing to hear! The widow daughter-in-law did not want to give the property, the 58-year-old mother-in-law gave birth to a son and raised a new heir
Vitkar came to Wagholi from his village in drought-hit Beed two decades ago in search of work. They are in dire need of free rations to support their families. “My wife has been bedridden for the past few years. I work daily in a mine. I earn Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 a month. Of this, I spend Rs 3,000 on buying grain from the open market,” informed Vitkar.

Like Witkar, at least 300 quarry workers face the problem of fingerprints. Gorakhnath Phulare (age 75 years) said that his family of five can get 25 kg ration every month from the fair price shop. It is free and provided by the government. It will be a great relief if they get it to us.’

The central government had launched the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana under the National Food Security Act to provide free 5 kg food grains every month during the Covid epidemic. Biometrics also did not bring these benefits to these miners. Stone breaker Sanu Shaikh said, ‘Those days were very difficult. We had no money to buy food grains and we were crying with hunger. Some NGOs brought us food. At that time, the biggest help from the government would have been ration.’

Another miner Shakuntala Lashkre (aged 40 years) said that the government should take note of their plight and improve the situation immediately.’ Bastu Rege, an activist from Wagholi, had earlier raised the issue of biometrics with the district administration, but nothing happened. Tehsildar Kiran Suravase while informing Times of India said, ‘We will investigate the matter. Our officers will give them all the help they need.’

A senior official in the district administration said, ‘The supply office in the tehsil should conduct a special drive for these workers and update their biometric records in their system. Only then can these workers get their ration quota.’

Speaking to Times of India, Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said, ‘We will take the matter to the authorities and try to resolve the issue at the earliest.’