The Delhi government Monday issued an order launching doorstep delivery of ration across the city’s containment zones, standing at over 80 across 11 districts, setting in motion a pet project of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The development is significant as home delivery of ration was among the major “promises” made by the Aam Aadmi Party during the 2020 assembly election campaign. For now, the initiative will be rolled out at a limited scale only at the sealed zones.
The Department of Food, Supplies and Consumer Affairs issued an order to this effect on Monday, detailing the rollout plan involving food supply officers, District Magistrates, Delhi Police, civil defence volunteers and the teams of “corona foot warriors” constituted by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev.
In March 2018, the Kejriwal Cabinet had cleared a proposal to launch doorstep delivery of ration to all 72 lakh PDS beneficiaries in the city. However, Lt Governor Anil Baijal had shot it down, advising the government to take the opinion of the Union government before taking a final call.
Before the 2020 elections, the CM had told The Indian Express that a fresh roadmap had been drawn, which was “at a very advanced stage”, relating to the home delivery proposal. “It should be implemented within six months of forming government,” he had said.
While the coronavirus outbreak has brought activities of the government to a halt, the PDS home delivery is set to begin, with the disbursal of ration for the month of May to beneficiaries residing in those zones.
The order, seen by The Indian Express, states that the delivery will be carried out by civil defence volunteers with the assistance of area food supply officers (FSOs), inspectors (FSIs) and fair price shop dealers. They have been directed to complete the home delivery before the usual disbursal through the shops.
“The entitled ration of the month of May already allocated and delivered to the Fair Price Shops and additional allocation under PMGKY as per directions of the department should be distributed to beneficiaries in containment zones in the last week of April 2020 before opening of sale for regular distribution of specified food articles to other beneficiaries…” it says.
For now, the area FSOs and FSIs have been directed to identify beneficiaries as soon as possible. The identification process will have to be completed within three days of every new containment order, a special commissioner in the food department has directed.
“The FSO/FSI will share the copy of the plan with the SDM and also provide the copy to corona foot warriors containment and surveillance teams for coordination and smooth distribution without any hindrance. The distribution in the containment zones shall be made by the concerned FSOs/FSIs and fair price shop licensee with the help of civil defence volunteers already deployed in their respective circles,” the order adds.
In cases where beneficiaries are registered with fair price shops falling within sealed areas but reside in some other place, their cards will be temporarily attached with shops located in nearby non-containment zones so that their quota of food can also be home delivered.
The DCPs have also been asked to issue directions to police staff deployed in containment zones to ensure coordination with the circle FSOs for smooth rollout of the initiative. So far, the civil defence volunteers were tasked with delivering essential commodities, of which ration was not a part, to the doorstep of households in the red zones.
Under the National Food Security Act, each PDS beneficiary is entitled to 5 kg of grains per month. The allocation has been raised by the Delhi government to 7.5 kg per beneficiary, under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), to help socio-economically disadvantaged families tide over the coronavirus crisis and related lockdown which has robbed many of their livelihoods.
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