Starvation stares poor in the face as PDS fails to safeguard Indians' Right to Food -Arghya Bhaskar

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published Published on Mar 25, 2021   modified Modified on Mar 27, 2021

In the latest development in the Koili Devi vs Union of India case, the Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s response to the plea that 'three crore ration cards are gone'

Santoshi Kumari was an 11-year-old girl from Karimati village of the Jaldega block in Simdega district of Jharkhand. On September 28, 2017, Santoshi fell unconscious. "Bhaat (rice)," she pleaded, recalls her mother. The mother rushed to the nearest Public Distribution System (PDS) Centre begging for rations, citing her daughter's poor health, but the dealer denied her, reiterating that her registration stood cancelled. Santoshi died the very same day.

Her mother Koili Devi and sister Gudiya Devi claimed that she had not eaten anything for eight days straight and that her death was caused by starvation. A fact-finding team commissioned by the district collector of Simdega mentions in the report that Santoshi died of malaria. This, therefore, is the official stance of the Central and state governments in this matter.

Around 11 months prior to this incident that highlighted the failure of the PDS, the Centre announced that all ration cards must be linked to Aadhaar cards for the sake of 'universalisation'. In March 2017, 10 of the 700 families that received rations from the same dealer as Koili Devi, were ousted from the PDS scheme and their ration cards stood cancelled/seeded. These 10 families had not been receiving any food aid for the past six months. Santoshi also could not avail of mid-day meals as her school was on holiday for Durga Puja. Santoshi's mother and sister were the only earning members of a family, and had been involved in grass-cutting jobs, barely making Rs 80 to 90 per week.

Please click here to read more., 25 March, 2021,

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