Tamil Nadu government urged to include sugar cardholders, while providing special benefits

Since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit all sections of people, residents feel that the government should not discriminate between rice cardholders and sugar cardholders

Even as the Civil Supplies authorities are planning to commence the distribution of the second instalment of cash support of ₹2,000 each to rice-drawing cardholders along with a hamper of essential commodities by the middle of this month, a demand has come from sections of sugar-drawing cardholders that the government should extend the same benefits to them.

Among various benefits being provided by the government to rice cardholders is the additional entitlement of free rice to them this month and next month. There are about 2.1 crore rice-drawing cards and 3 lakh sugar cards, apart from about 50,000 non-commodity cards. By providing the cash support of ₹4,000 along with the pack of 14 essential commodities to every rice-drawing cardholder, the government will be spending more than ₹ 9,000 crore.

Pointing out that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit “universally and perhaps, uniformly” all sections of people, a senior citizen, who is living in Thiruvanmiyur and holding a sugar card, feels that the government should not discriminate between rice cardholders and sugar cardholders, while disbursing the benefits. The sugar cardholders too, are from the middle class, a large section of whom has otherwise been covered in view of holding rice cards.

T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist, supports the demand and adds that the pandemic has rendered even fairly well off sections of society economically vulnerable.

Officials in the government say that the distinction has been a part of the government’s policy. There is nothing new in what is being done, as it had been the case in the past when the distribution of colour television sets was done or that of wet grinder-mixies and table fans. There is an implication that by opting for sugar, those card holders do not require the government’s support, which is why they have been excluded.

The authorities have been getting feedback that the government’s benefits need to be targeted better than what is being done as many well-off sections of people are also drawing them. In the last couple of years, the government gave opportunities for sugar card holders to convert their cards into rice drawing cards, the officials say.

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