We have started “Lokshahi Talim Shala” (training center on participatory democracy) in Daanta block of one of the most backward districts (Banaskantha) of Gujarat. A Major issue here is not getting ration from Public Distribution Service (PDS) shop. As per National Food Security Act, every eligible household is to get 5 Kg of rice/wheat per person at subsidized rate.
Once you verify using the biometric thumb impression, a printed coupon is given which has details of entitlement of the verified person as per law.
Here PDS shop owner used to charge Rs. 10 for printing the coupon, but coupons were not given to card holder. Only 25% of the ration was given them. People said truck from Mumbai comes to their village and takes away their ration from ration dealer. When we investigated further, it was true that ration dealers are selling wheat, and rice to biscuit companies in Mumbai.
We had RTI on Wheels (“Right to Information” on Wheels) visit, and and conduct outreach activities in 40 villages. We disseminated information on entitlements, monitoring mechanism, Grievance redressal mechanism, and also had dialogue with ration shop holders.
From time to time we kept informing block and district officials about our campaign, and the issues we identified. Our younger team played key role in mobilizing people for filing complaints and hundreds of complaints were filed at block offices.
Within a month or so, people started arguing and questioning the ration dealers. They started demanding their full ration.
Revabhai, one of our volunteer at “Tundiya Lokshahi Talim Shala” (training center at Tundiya village in Daanta block) got his 40 kg ration last month. (he has 8 family members in his ration card) . People refused to pay Rs. 10 in more than 30 villages. Special instruction was given by district officials on our representation. Block officials started going in villages for monitoring.
RTI on wheels, is a medium for dissemination of information in effective way. Talking on loudspeaker about entitlements and issues makes lots of differences. Screening of films related to ration gives understanding on how complaints are made, and RTI are filed.
RTI on Wheels is not mere a vehicle..but it is becoming symbol of empowerment….
Received from Harinesh bhai, Janpath, Nov 18, 2018. “RTI on Wheels” is a result of the collaboration between Janpath and AID and has several such success stories.