In a renewed push for the rollout of the doorstep delivery of ration scheme, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has written to Lt-Governor Anil Baijal asserting that the elected government does not require his “approval” for its launch and that it has “already attained finality”.
In an official file noting, Kejriwal has written that Baijal needs to decide whether he agrees with the elected government’s decision to drop the prefix “Mukhya Mantri” from the name of the proposed scheme, which was notified on February 20. “The whole scheme is not the subject of his consideration,” Kejriwal wrote.
The chief minister pointed out that the L-G did not express any difference of opinion on the matter even after the scheme was notified. “As per Supreme Court order dated 4.7.2018, Hon’ble L-G had another chance to express his difference of opinion with the said scheme/notification. However, Hon’ble L-G did not express any difference of opinion on the same. Therefore, the said scheme has already attained finality. The whole scheme is not under consideration at this stage,” wrote Kejriwal.
Earlier in June, Baijal had requested the elected government to “reconsider” the scheme as it would “mandatorily require the prior approval of the Centre as per Section 12 (2) (h) of the NFSA”. The government had rejected the L-G’s contention, which has been reiterated by Kejriwal in the latest file noting.
“Hon’ble L-G’s insistence on referring the matter to the central government for its approval does not appear correct. The approval of the Centre is neither mandated nor necessary,” he said.
The Centre has also written to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev saying that the Delhi government is free to procure additional food grains for the proposed scheme under notified rates and launch it, instead of “disrupting” the public distribution system under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) under which highly subsidised food grains are allotted to the states.
Kejriwal had previously rejected the Centre’s suggestion as well, terming it impractical. Accepting the Centre’s suggestion was not prudent as it would lead to “double expenditure” for meeting the same goal of delivering ration, he had stated.
Kejriwal further added that the doorstep ration scheme would essentially be in line with the Centre’s February 1, 2018, circular to states and UTs to ensure home delivery of ration to senior citizens, differently abled people, and pregnant women. “Delhi government has gone a step ahead and implemented home delivery for all its citizens rather than restricting it only for pregnant women, differently abled citizens, and senior citizens,” Kejriwal said.
He went on to re-emphasise the need to launch the scheme in view of the pandemic. It will further the objective of “insulating the population from the virus and limit the threat of the spread of the infection… It has been widely reported that the third wave of the pandemic is around the corner and children will be particularly at risk during that time. Compelling parents and guardians to physically go to FPS (ration) shops during this time will in all likelihood expose them to the risk of the virus and consequently make children more vulnerable,” he wrote.
Kejriwal said due to the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition, India has earned the “shameful distinction” of having the highest levels of food insecurity globally, so much so that the country ranked 94 out of 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index. “All our neighbouring countries, some of them with less robust political and economic systems, have, once again, fared better than us in guaranteeing this most basic and fundamental of all human rights to their people,” he underlined.
The CM also mentioned in his note that the Delhi government had on July 21, 2020, decided to implement the One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme of the Centre in Delhi and activate e-POS devices in all ration shops of the city. However, so far ONORC and e-POS devices have been rolled out only in the Seemapuri circle through an order in April 2021. The Centre has recently questioned the delay in rolling out the scheme across Delhi.
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