Jharkhand's Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups are Yet to Experience the 'Benefits' of Aadhaar

A survey of all PVTG families in Manika and Satbarwa blocks took place on 1-12 November 2018. The survey was carried out by the local NREGA Sahayata Kendra (Manika) in collaboration with student volunteers. A total of 325 families were covered – many more than the 256 listed in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census of 2011. 

A door-to-door survey of all particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) families in Manika Block was carried out by the local NREGA Sahayata Kendra, in collaboration with student volunteers, on 1-12 November 2018. This short report, prepared for a public hearing on 13 December 2018, summarises the main issues and action required. 

We did our best to cover all PVTG households in Manika block. We found 232 PVTG households, compared with 204 listed in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011. The term “survey households” below refers to these 232 households.

PVTG families in Manika are scattered over 15 villages in 6 gram panchayats.1 Their general living conditions are very poor. None of them have secure employment. Most of them survive from a little farming, casual labour, and fallback activities such as making ropes or “soop”. Food insecurity is rampant among PVTG families. School attendance is very low. Very few PVTG children go to an anganwadi. Public facilities in the PVTG hamlets are also very poor: for instance, none of them have a well-functioning school. PVTG families are also routinely exploited by contractors, government officials, PDS dealers and Pragya Kendra operators. 

In this situation, many PVTG families depend critically on two entitlements for their survival: social security pensions, and food rations from the public distribution system (PDS). One of the main purposes of the survey was to understand the problems people face in securing these entitlements. 

  



Note: This report focuses on Manika Block specifically, but this table is based on a survey of all PVTG households in Manika and Satbarwa Blocks. The number of PVTG households in both Blocks combined is 325 (of which 232 are in Manika and 93 are in Satbarwa).
General condition of PVTGs  
Proportion of households where some members had to sleep hungry in the last 3 months  
A few times 33%
Many times 10%
Total 43%
Proportion of adults (age 18 and above) who have  
No Aadhaar 4%
No bank account 28%
No voter ID 30%
No mobile 77%
Proportion of children aged 6-14 years who are going to school 72%
Proportion of children aged 3-5 years who are going to the Anganwadi 22%
   
Public distribution system  
Proportion of households receiving food rations from the PDS  
Households with a ration card 70%
Households without ration card, but on the dealer’s list 18%
Total 88%
Among those receiving rations, average amount received in October 2018 (kg) 33 kg
Proportion of households who are collecting their rations from local PDS dealer 72%
   
Pensions  
Proportion of households getting at least one pension 64%
Proportion of households with at least one pending pension application 34%
Proportion of pensioners whose pension has been discontinued 11%
Proportion of pensioners who withdraw their pension from Pragya Kendra 68%
Proportion of pensioners who have a bank passbook 40%
   
Aadhaar  
Proportion of households where someone aged 6 and above has no Aadhaar 21%
Proportion of households who have problems related to Aadhaar or biometric authentication 42%

 

Lack of Antyodaya cards: All PVTG households are entitled to Antyodaya (AAY) cards, as per Supreme Court order of 2 May 2003. While most of the survey households (84%) had an AAY card, we found 24 households who did not have one. Many (not all) of them are recently-married couples, with or without children.  
 

Lack of pensions: In Jharkhand, all PVTG households are supposed to have at least one social security pension – if not an old-age/widow/disability pension, then a special pension under the Aadim Jan Jati (AJJ) pension scheme. A high proportion of survey households (41%), however, do not receive any pension. 
 

Discontinuation of pensions: One major problem with pensions today is that many pensions have been discontinued due to Aadhaar-related problems such as lack of Aadhaar, lack of e-KYC and faulty Aadhaar seeding. Among the survey households, 16 pensioners are currently deprived of their pension, mainly for Aadhaar-related reasons. Another 20 or so were temporarily deprived of their pension for several months after pensions were linked with Aadhaar. For example, in Uchvabal village, Dileswari Devi’s pension has stopped for more than a year for lack of Aadhaar linkage. Her pension was a lifeline, because she doesn’t have a ration card. Now, she feels completely helpless. Sunita Kunwar of Sewdhara village stopped receiving her pension because of technical problems with e-KYC. She doesn’t have a ration card either – this makes life very difficult.  
 

Corruption at Pragya Kendras: Pragya Kendra (PK) operators routinely take bribes for services like Aadhaar enrolment, pension payments and online applications. For instance, many pensioners said that they had to pay Rs 10- 20 each month to the PK operator when they collect their pension. Some people had to pay much larger bribes for special services. 
Example: Dasiya (w/o Sunil Parhaiya, village Sewdhara) wanted help to apply for a pension but the PK operator in Namudag, Sandeep, asked her for a bribe of Rs 2,000. [PPT, Slide 16] 
 

Failure of ‘dakiya’ system: Under the Dakiya system, monthly food rations are supposed to be delivered to PVTG families at their doorsteps (in sealed packets of 35 kg), to protect them from exploitation by PDS dealers. This is not happening in Manika Block, in spite of the Block having a large budget for the Dakiya system. Most PVTG families in Manika are still collecting their rations from the local PDS dealer. 
 

Absence of exemption registers: None of the ration shops in the survey villages are maintaining an “exemption register” for the purpose of giving food rations to people who are unable to use the PoS machine (e.g. due to biometric failure). This is not an issue right now for PVTG families, because they are exempt from biometric authentication. However, it affects other families and it is a violation of Central Government instructions. The dealers claim that they have received no written instructions in this regard, nor have “formats” for the exemption register been given to them. 
 

Cheating by PDS dealers: In most of the survey villages, it was found that PDS dealers take cuts (katauti) from people’s monthly food rations – up to 5 kg per AAY card per month (out of 35 kg), even more in a few cases. 
Example: In Rankikalan, PDS dealer Dinesh Rai gives PVTG families two “tinas” of rice every month, instead of 35 kg. People say that two tinas amounts to 32 kg at most - even less when Dinesh Rai skims some rice from the top of the tinas. This has been going on for many years. Most PVTG families in Uchvabal, Sewdhara and Kui (Rankikalan GP) complained about this. In Uchvabal, they signed a written complaint against Dinesh Rai. 
 

Other Aadhaar-related issues: Many issues related to Aadhaar emerged during the survey. In fact, about 42% of PVTG families in Manika reported a serious Aadhaar-related problem. Here are some examples of these problems[2]. Among the survey households, 7% of persons aged 6 and above do not have an Aadhaar card. Some were unable to pay the bribes demanded by enrolment agents. Others were turned away because their fingerprints or irises could not be scanned. Many of them are deprived of rations, pensions or other benefits for lack of Aadhaar. 
Example: Amua Kumar, an 85-year old widow who lives in Uchvabal village, does not have an Aadhaar – the operator turned her away because of a deformity in her hand. Without Aadhaar, it is not possible for her to benefit from any pension scheme.  

School admission refused: Some respondents complained that one of their children was refused school admission for lack of Aadhaar. This is a violation of Supreme Court orders. 
Example: Sonu Parhaiya (s/o Maharaj Parhaiya, Rewat Khurd), about 10 years old, was in a fix when the school principal told him that Aadhaar was mandatory for school enrolment, because he could not find his Aadhaar card. Interestingly, he found a way out: he re- enrolled and got a new Aadhaar card, with a different number! 
 

Failure of e-KYC: Many people find it difficult to link their bank account with Aadhaar and meet e-KYC norms. Until they have completed e-KYC, they are often prevented from withdrawing money from their bank account. Sometimes their account is frozen of even closed, without notice or consent. These are harsh and illegal practices that should be discontinued.  Biometric authentication problems at the Pragya Kendra. Some people have problems of biometric authentication at the Pragya Kendra. This makes it difficult for them to collect their pensions or other benefits, or it forces them to go all the way to the bank in Manika.  Example: Hiru Parhaiya (Kui village) has multiple problems related to biometric authentication. For instance, he is unable to complete e-KYC because the PoS machine at the Pragya Kendra does not recognise his fingerprints. Without e-KYC, he is unable to withdraw his NREGA wages. 

Rejected NREGA wage payments: NREGA wage payments are often rejected, delayed or diverted because of Aadhaar-related issues such as lack of e-KYC, faulty e-KYC, data entry errors, inconsistencies between databases, etc. 
 

Embezzlement of scholarships in Uchvabal: In Uchvabal, the para-teacher (Krishna Ram) is hoarding the Aadhaar cards and bank “passbooks” (issued by Pragya Kendra) of all the children enrolled in the local school (“Upgraded Primary School, Ucchawabal”). Data from the Welfare Office in Latehar shows that scholarships have been paid into these accounts in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. But children and parents in Uchvabal complain that they have not received any scholarship money. They have submitted a written complaint on this and an enquiry has been initiated by SDO Latehar.[3] 

Action Required 

1. All PVTG families deprived of an Antyodaya card should get one immediately. 

2. All PVTG families deprived of a pension should get one immediately. 

3. The welfare department should take pro-active steps to ensure that all discontinued pensions are resumed. 

4. Arrangements should be made to facilitate Aadhaar enrolment of people who have not been able to enrol so far, and who wish to enrol – including people who have problems of fingerprint recognition or iris scan. 

5. Strict action should be taken against the para-teacher in Uchvabal (Krishna Ram), including dismissal, FIR, and recovery of embezzled money. 

6. Strict action should be taken against Dinesh Rai (PDS dealer in Uchvabal), including dismissal, FIR, and recovery of embezzled food rations. 

7. Strict action should be taken against Sandeep (Pragya Kendra operator in Namudag) for taking bribes. 

8. The Dakiya system should be activated in Manika Block. 

9. The Education Department should issue written instructions to clarify that Aadhaar is not mandatory for school admission. 

10. Written instructions should be given to PDS dealers regarding maintenance of exemption  registers.

 

This report was prepared for a public hearing in Manika (Latehar District) on 13 December 2018. It is based on a survey of all PVTG households in Manika Block, carried out by the Sahayata Kendra team with student volunteers on 1-12 November 2018. The public hearing was a joint initiative of the Sahayata Kendra and Gram Swaraj Mazdoor Sangh, Manika.
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