What is a Ration Card?

What is a Ration Card

Ration card is a document issued by the state government of India. This card is used for purchasing subsidized food, LPG and kerosene. State Governments issue distinctive Ration Cards to Above Poverty Line, Below Poverty Line and Antyodaya families and conduct periodical review and checking of Ration Cards. Ration card is an important subsistence tool for the poor, provide proof of identity and a connection with government databases. India’s public distribution system (PDS) is based on the ration card, which it uses to establish identity, eligibility, and entitlement.

Families living below the poverty line are entitled to Blue Cards, under which they can avail special subsidies. In addition to permanent Ration Cards, States also issue temporary Ration Cards, which are valid for a specified number of months, and are issued for relief purposes.

The procedure and time limit for issue of ration card may vary from State to State. There is also a provision for making amendments to valid Ration Cards. The designated authority by the state governments may issue a ration card to an eligible applicant within a reasonable time not exceeding one month of the date of receipt of the application after necessary checks and verification. The State Government can prescribe the detailed procedure for finalisation of the list of eligible households covering, inter-alia, aspects like the process of inviting applications online, drawing up of draft list, putting the draft list in the public domain including reading out of the list in meetings of the Gram Sabha or equivalent body in urban areas, inviting objections, disposal of objections, appeals and so on.

With the help of e-Ration service, applicants can obtain ration cards and check the availability of food grains and their cost online. This will help end the corrupt practice of holding back rations and ensure cards reach the needy. Holders of Aadhaar cards can apply for e-ration card. The website of the Department of Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs provides details of people eligible for the food security scheme. This service was first introduced in Delhi.

Types of ration card:

Under the National food security act, all state governments in India have to identify households that are eligible for purchasing subsidized food grain from the Public Distribution System and provide them with ration cards. There are two types of ration cards under NFSA:

  • Priority ration card – priority ration cards are issued to households that meet the eligibility criteria set by their state government. Each priority household is entitled to 5 kilograms of food grain per member.
  • Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards are issued to “poorest of poor” households. Each AAY household is entitled to 35 kilograms of food grain.

Before the NFSA was enacted, there were three types of ration cards

  • Above Poverty Line (APL) ration cards that were issued to households living above the poverty line (as estimated by the Planning Commission). These households received 15 kilograms of food grain (based on availability).
  • Below Poverty Line (BPL) ration cards that were issued to households living below the poverty line. These households received 25-35 kilograms of food grain.
  • Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards that were issued to “poorest of poor” households. These households received 35 kilograms of food grain.
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