The free ration scheme for non-card holders hasn’t quite performed as promised in Maharashtra.
In the Mumbai-Thane belt, where the population of migrant workers is the highest in the state, a total of 31,739 metric tonne of foodgrain were to be distributed under the scheme by the end of June.
But a month-and-a-half post the deadline, only 13,688 metric tonne or just about 43 per cent of the intended supplies have been distributed.
A flagship scheme under the Centre’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ revival package, it is mainly aimed at providing food to migrant households and daily wage earners. Beneficiaries are entitled to 10 kg of rice and 2 kg of chana dal per person free of cost for May and June.
But records available with the rationing controller’s office in the belt show that only 1.39 lakh non-card holders had lifted ration under the scheme till August 12. This, at a time when the government’s own records indicate that at least eight lakh migrants from other states and two lakh from within Maharashtra, who were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, had travelled back to the villages in May alone. A few lakh others even used disallowed means of transport to return to their villages.
The scheme was off to a delayed start. While Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced the scheme on May 14 as part of the second tranche of the revival package, delays in finalisation of the modalities — both at the central and the state levels — meant that its implementation in Maharashtra began only on May 31, by when most migrant households had returned to their villages.
While many migrant worker families have since returned, senior officials said the district authorities haven’t been prompt in identifying eligible families.
Controller of Rationing and Director of Food Supplies, Kailash Pagare, said that the state has extending the deadline for beneficiaries to lift the ration till August 31. Aadhar card is being mainly used to verify that the beneficiary is not an existing ration card holder. “There is surplus stock available. Eligible families should visit local ration offices to lift foodgrain,” Pagare said.
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