“Over 3,000 tribesmen in the Paderu region have lost the opportunity to get vaccinated because of the aadhaar connection.”
Former Union Government Secretary EAS Sarma, praising the state government’s decision to deliver the ration almost to the beneficiaries’ doorsteps, saying that linking the PDS ration cards and even the COVID vaccination to Aadhaar may not be what you want Result delivers.
In a letter to the chief minister, he indicated that thousands of tribesmen were unable to go through the verification process associated with issuing aadhaar numbers because they are in remote and inaccessible areas. In such a scenario, linking aadhaar might not do the tribesmen any good, he said.
Mr Sarma pointed out that the Aadhaar Association in the Paderu area of Visakhapatnam district has deprived more than 3,000 tribesmen of the vaccination opportunities, leaving them highly exposed to the virus.
The former bureaucrat justified his claim that an NGO, Lib Tech of India, had carried out a comprehensive study of the number of tribesmen who were affected by being unable to obtain aadhaar numbers, the range of factors responsible and the corrective actions that urgently need to be taken so that these tribesmen have access to not only PDS rations but also vaccinations.
Based on a field study in villages from two mandalas, followed by telephone interviews with people from 50 gram panchayats in four ITDAs, the study estimates that between 7,000 and 35,000 families in ITDA areas have been excluded from the PDS.
“Include Gram Sabhas”
Mr Sarma suggested that the state government take advantage of the provisions of the Panchayats Law (Extension to Planned Areas) (PESA), which assists local tribesmen of Gram Sabhas in formulating and implementing any programs that will benefit the tribesmen.
The review process in close consultation with the Gram Sabha would be simpler and more authentic and would make the system more meaningful and beneficial. The Gram Sabhas should be fully involved in identifying the beneficiaries of any such program, he said.