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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Delhi govt plans to roll out ration at doorstep scheme this month

The scheme’s name, ‘Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna’, had been dropped after the Centre raised a red flag over it

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: April 7, 2021 9:28:31 pm
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi hospital bed, Delhi COVID-19 cases, Delhi news, indian expressDelhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (File)

Having dropped the name ‘Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna’ after the Centre raised a red flag over it, the Delhi government plans to roll out the doorstep delivery of ration scheme in

On Wednesday, the Delhi Food department ordered that the ration distribution for April be carried out through biometric verification using e-POS machines at all ration shops in the Seemapuri circle on a pilot basis, including at the ones “set up for doorstep delivery of foodgrains under National Food Security Act”.

In circles, except Seemapuri, the ration shops will remain open, the order added.

A senior government official said there is no need to re-notify the scheme just because its name has been dropped. The scheme was notified on February 20 and was scheduled to be launched on March 25.

“We plan to launch it very soon, most likely in April itself. There is no need to notify it afresh. The Cabinet has already approved the decision to drop the name and we are hopeful that the Centre will not have any objection now as it is not being rolled out in the form of any local scheme,” the official said.

According to the notification of the doorstep scheme, millers empaneled with the Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd (DSCSC) will be tasked with lifting wheat and rice from the godowns of the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The wheat will be processed into atta before distribution by doorstep agents, while the rice will be cleaned of straws, stones, jute bag thread, mud or other impurities and foreign substances.

Apart from the name of the scheme, the Centre has also questioned one of the components of the proposed scheme that involves collection of “the cost of subsidised food grains and a specified amount as milling/conversion charges” from beneficiaries. The Delhi government has not yet made public the charges that it plans to collect.

However, existing ration dealers feel they will be thrown out of business once the scheme is rolled out as the agency picked for doorstep delivery will also be tasked with setting up large warehouses where supplies will be stocked before delivery at the doorstep of beneficiaries.

Following a delay in supply of ration for the month of April to around 71 fair price shops in Seemapuri, Ballimaran and New Delhi circles, the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh served a legal notice to the Delhi Food Commissioner on March 31 to resume supply within 24 hours.

According to the National Food Security Act, 2013, “The State Government shall ensure the lifting of foodgrains from the Corporation (FCI) by the last day of the month preceding the allocation month.”

Supply eventually resumed on April 6. “We have repeatedly assured the ration dealers that supply to fair price shops will not be discontinued. The scheme is optional and only those who opt for it will have their share delivered straight to their homes,” the official quoted above said.

Saurabh Gupta, secretary of the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealer’s Sangh, said the modalities of the scheme clearly state that the doorstep agency will set up its own large fair price shops, the license of which will be obtained in the name of the Delhi Consumer’s Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd (DCCWS).

“During the lockdown, when entire cities had shut down, ration shops remained open and continued to serve people despite all odds. Casually dismissing us as ‘ration mafia’ does no good,” Gupta said.

Public distribution system welfare association president Shailendra Kumar questioned the long-pending implementation of usage of e-POS machines at ration shops. “The government says the scheme will put an end to pilferage and theft. Then why do the e-POS machines lie unused in all ration shops? Even under the scheme, doorstep agents are expected to hand over ration after biometric verification through e-POS machines,” Kumar said.

The distribution of ration in Delhi is currently managed by a network of as many as 2,005 fair price shops. Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, which governs the PDS, the approximately 17.77 lakh ration card holding families in Delhi are divided into three categories — 15.12 lakh priority households (PR), 1.73 lakh priority state households (PRS), and 68,468 Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families.

The beneficiaries coming under the PR and PRS categories are entitled to 5 kg of foodgrains per month while AAY households receive 25 kg wheat, 10 kg rice and 1 kg sugar.

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