A group of social activists today questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement, made in February, that Aadhaar linking has helped weed out around 4 crore fake ration cards and claimed that there was no data to back it.
Addressing a press conference, activists and academics including Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Reetika Khera, Dipa Sinha and Amrita Johri also accused the government of sharing "misleading data" to paint a rosy picture of the benefits of Aadhaar.
Bhardwaj of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information said an RTI application seeking details on the prime minister's statement, made in Lok Sabha on February 7 this year, elicited no concrete response.
She said she had filed the RTI with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) seeking state-wise break-up of the bogus ration cards referred to by the PM and the names and addresses of all those whose cards were cancelled.
The PMO transferred the RTI application to Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD), which in turn directed Bhardwaj to refer to its website, which had a document having consolidated state-wise data of the period 2006-2016.
"According to that document, 6.26 crore bogus/ineligible ration cards have been deleted by the states between 2006 and 2016. Now firstly, ineligible does not necessarily mean fake and secondly the data do not pertain to the period PM referred to and thirdly it do not match with the figures shared by him," she said.
On the query seeking names and addresses of those whose cards were cancelled, till now 10 states and union territories have replied stating that there are no bogus ration cards or that they do not maintain any such record, Bhardwaj claimed.
Modi had said that the extensive use of Aadhar has helped in apprehending 3.94 crore fake ration cards in two and a half years, preventing siphoning of Rs 14,000 crore to the middlemen.
During the press conference, the activists also claimed that people were facing problems arising out of the introduction of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in schemes such as Mid-Day Meal or the Public Distribution System, even in the national capital.
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