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.
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.’