Ration cards have long been a critical document in India, serving as a means to access essential food items through the Public Distribution System. In the past, there were three primary types of ration cards: Above Poverty Line (APL), Below Poverty Line (BPL), and Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards, each distinguished by different colors as chosen by the respective state governments. However, with the introduction of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in 2013, the landscape of ration cards underwent significant changes, categorizing households into two main groups: Priority Household (PHH) and Non-priority Household (NPHH). These changes aimed to prioritize households based not only on income but also on other socioeconomic imbalances in society.
Categories of Ration Cards as per NFSA
Under NFSA, households are primarily categorized into two groups: Priority Household (PHH) and Non-priority Household (NPHH). Let’s delve into the details of these categories and their features:
1. Priority Household (PHH) Ration Card:
PHH ration cards form a major segment of the priority sector. NFSA aims to provide eligible households, known as Priority Households, with food grains at subsidized prices through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). The benefits of PHH ration cards include:
Each member of a priority household is entitled to receive 5 kg of food grains per month at subsidized prices.
Prices for food grains are fixed by the Central Government and may vary but do not exceed Rs. 3 per kg for rice, Rs. 2 per kg for wheat, and Rs. 1 per kg for coarse grains.
Eligibility Criteria for Priority Household (PHH) Ration Card:
Eligibility is determined based on both inclusion and exclusion criteria. Households meeting the inclusion criteria are evaluated further using exclusion criteria. Here are the criteria:
Inclusion Criteria for PHH Ration Card:
Households without shelter.
Households with destitute members living on alms.
All households belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups.
Households with a widow receiving a pension, if not otherwise ineligible based on nine exclusion criteria.
Persons with disabilities of 40% or more.
Any transgender person.
Exclusion Criteria for PHH Ration Card:
Households owning motorized four-wheelers, heavy vehicles, trawlers, or motorboats.
Households with mechanized agricultural equipment such as tractors or harvesters.
Households with any member employed by the Central Government, State Government, Public Sector Undertakings, government-aided autonomous bodies, or local bodies.
Households with any member earning more than Rs. 10,000 per month (rural) or Rs. 15,000 per month (urban).
Pensioners with monthly income exceeding Rs. 10,000 (rural) or Rs. 15,000 (urban).
Households with enterprises (excluding micro-enterprises) registered with the government for manufacturing and services.
Households paying Income Tax or Professional Tax.
Households with domestic electric connections having a load of 2 KW or more and consuming an average of 300 units of energy per month.
Households with three or more rooms featuring pucca walls and roofs.
In conclusion, NFSA has revamped the classification of ration cards, focusing on Priority and Non-priority households. These changes are aimed at ensuring that subsidized food grains reach those who need them the most. Additionally, the advent of online application processes for ration cards, as well as services like birth and death certificate applications, has made these essential government services more accessible and efficient for the public.
Incorporating technology into such processes is a significant step towards streamlining administrative tasks and improving citizen services.