Why villager now prefers to live below the poverty line?
Thanks to the subsidised rice scheme launched by the Chhattisgarh government, almost every villager under Mahasamund gram panchayat now prefers to live below the poverty line (BPL).
The Ratapali gram panchayat, some 110km from Raipur, in Baghbehra block headquarters comprise two villages — Barhabhata and Jhalmala —housing 279 families. Of them, 269 are enrolled as living below the poverty line, including the families of the gram sarpanch, deputy sarpanch and many medium and big-time farmers owning land.
According to villagers, almost all have enrolled themselves in the list of BPL families to avail the subsidised rice scheme that the government launched in January 2008. Under the scheme, each BPL family is eligible to receive 35 kilograms of rice every month at a price of Rs 3. Recently, the government curtailed the price from Rs 3 to Rs 2, while deciding to grant 30kg of rice and five kilograms of wheat under the scheme.
Revenue records of Ratapali gram panchayat underline that both villages have a number of medium farmers having one to two hectare of land. While 25 per cent of the farmers hold around five hectares. But, they are all included in the BPL list.
As an explanation Barhabhata head Uttam Dhruv said: "When my name was included in the list, I did not hold the post of the village head." Since the name was already on the list when he got selected, it continued there after even after his election.
Dhruv, however, blamed the system for lapses. "When there is a proposal to delete a name from the BPL list, villagers jointly oppose the move in the gram sabha," he said, adding that as the villagers are receiving subsidised rice, no one wished their names to be erased. Interestingly, both villages do not have a single family who has been listed as living Above Poverty Line (APL).
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