Delhi begins rolling out ‘one nation one ration card’ policy

Under the policy, a person holding a ration card issued under the National Food Security Act, 2013 can collect their monthly quota of foodgrains from any fair price shop in the country.

The Delhi government has rolled out the Centre’s ‘one nation one ration card’ policy at Seemapuri, a development that comes amid the tussle between the two sides on the proposed doorstep delivery scheme.

Under the policy, a person holding a ration card issued under the National Food Security Act, 2013 can collect their monthly quota of foodgrains from any fair price shop in the country.

Its implementation is a significant development as Delhi has a large working class population with roots in states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.

The policy was implemented on April 12 and since then, 38 cardholders — Bihar (19), Uttar Pradesh (18) and Jharkhand (1) — have availed its benefit at the Seemapuri circle, which has 42 fair price shops.

The distribution of ration in Delhi is currently managed by a network of 2,005 fair price shops.

On April 12, Delhi Food Department Assistant Commissioner (Policy) Rajesh Ahuja wrote to officers handling distribution of ration, stating that Food Minister Imran Hussain has asked for the policy to be implemented on a pilot basis.

“One Nation One Ration Card Scheme and portability option may be launched in Fair Price Shops of Seemapuri circle including new Fair Price Shops set up for doorstep delivery of foodgrains under National Food Security Act on a pilot basis,” Hussain wrote.

Apart from the Centre’s policy, the Food Department has also brought back the e-POS based issuance of ration in the circle, also on a pilot basis.

The e-POS mechanism, which involves releasing ration after biometric verification of a beneficiary, was discontinued in Delhi in 2018 after complaints that many elderly and infirm were being deprived of their share due to technical glitches.

Earlier, this month the Food Department had issued an order to reinstate the e-POS system in Seemapuri, where the government also plans to launch the doorstep delivery of ration scheme. However, it had no mention of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ policy.

The Centre had halted the launch of the scheme, which was scheduled for March 25, after raising objections on its proposed name in Delhi — Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana. The name gives an impression that the scheme is run by the state, while the foodgrains come from the Centre at highly subsidised rates, the Centre had contented.

The Delhi Cabinet then dropped 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.

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.

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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