If you are ‘ poor’ in Delhi, the benefits are many. Taking full advantage of this, touts have arrogated to themselves the power to decide who constitutes the city’s ‘ poor’ in return for money.It is touts who decide who will benefit from the raft of schemes related to health, education and other social sectors that are run by the Delhi government for the city’s poor to lift them out of poverty. These touts can brand a rich man as ‘ poor’ so that he can milk these schemes on which the government spends crores of rupees.
Or, they can deny a really poor man these benefits if he does not pay a ‘ fee’. The benefits, like access to free healthcare and education among others, are extended to families falling under the government’s economically weaker section ( EWS) group. A family whose annual earnings are less than Rs 1 lakh qualifies as an EWS family and is given an EWS certificate, also called an income certificate, by the government to access the benefits.
For lakhs of Delhiites, the EWS certificate is the passport to a comfortable life. The demand for the certificate is enormous and the queue of people applying for it interminable.
For a price, these middlemen help poor families get the certificate quickly that otherwise can take long to obtain in a system designed to frustrate and hassle than help.
The rich want to be poor
Surprisingly, the certificate is also in huge demand among families who earn more than Rs 1 lakh annually. These ‘ poor’ rich guys, too, tap into the pool of touts to obtain the certificate illegally.
The EWS certificate, therefore, is virtually on sale in the national capital. The touts charge Rs 5,000 on an average for a certificate.
“ We will carry out systemic reforms and crack down on the offenders,” Delhi’s divisional commissioner and revenue department secretary Vijay Dev said.
“ We are in the process of scrutinising the records of EWS applicants at different schools. Guilty persons and officials will face criminal action. It is a thrust area for us and part of our reform plans. We want to ensure that all intended benefits in crucial sectors like health and education reach genuine individuals and no one else,” he promised.
The Delhi government’s website claims it takes no more than 21 days to obtain an EWS certificate from the sub- divisional magistrate ( SDM)’ s office. The process looks simple on paper at least.
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