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Centre expresses inability to revise cap on PDS beneficiaries in Delhi

The cap on the number of PDS beneficiaries is fixed at 72.77 lakh in Delhi, who are covered by 17.78 lakh ration cards. As many as 2,09,784 applications for issuance of new ration cards are pending.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
September 9, 2021 11:52:39 am
Delhi, Delhi news, Delhi ration card, Delhi PDS beneficiaries, Delhi PSD system, Indian ExpressPeople wait outside a ration distribution centre in Delhi in June 2021. (Express Photo: Abhinav Saha)

The Centre has rejected the Delhi Food Department’s request to revise the cap on the number of public distribution system (PDS) beneficiaries in the city.

According to an official of the Department of Food and Supplies, the Delhi government had written to the Centre last December to consider revising the upper limit, citing the large number of pending applications for ration cards.

“The Centre responded earlier this year and expressed its inability to revise the ceiling under the National Food Security Act, 2013,” the official said.

According to numbers shared in the Delhi Assembly earlier this year, the cap on the number of PDS beneficiaries is fixed at 72.77 lakh in Delhi, who are covered by 17.78 lakh ration cards. As many as 2,09,784 applications for issuance of new ration cards are pending.

Every ration card can have multiple beneficiaries.

In the absence of a revision of the ceiling, new cards will continue to be issued on a First In First Out (FIFO) basis in the city. Under FIFO, once a vacancy arises due to deletion or suspension of an existing card, applications for new cards are taken up based on their position in the queue.

The need to allow more ration cards in Delhi was acutely felt during the pandemic period as the episodes of economic lockdown made lakhs of people dependent on government assistance.

As many as 63.63 lakh people in the capital, not having ration cards, were provided dry ration by the Delhi government in 2020 and 2021 at a cost of Rs 58.79 crore.

On Thursday, Food Minister Imran Hussain chaired a review meeting on the pendency applications.

“During the meeting, the Food & Civil Supplies Department informed that recent vacancies may have arisen due to the cancellation of ration cards for various reasons. The department is now considering the pending applications of ration cards and the addition of beneficiaries in the existing ration cards. Identification of eligible households is in progress and new ration cards will be issued to all eligible households in due process,” said an official statement.

Under the National Food Security Act, beneficiaries coming under the PR (priority household) and PRS (priority state household) categories are entitled to 5 kg of foodgrains per month, while AAY households receive 25 kg wheat, 10 kg rice and 1 kg sugar. Till Diwali, beneficiaries of every category will get additional 5 kg of food grains free of cost under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PMGKAY).

There are 1,998 ration shops in Delhi.

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