A number of NGOs have opposed the Delhi government's proposal of giving Rs 1,000 cash per family per month instead of subsidised foodgrains under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
A pilot project for approximately 100 families is being run in Raghubir Nagar in west Delhi wherein instead of the subsidised grain, the government is doling out Rs 1,000 in cash.
NGOs working with poor people, however, are aghast at the idea. Ritu Mehra of Pardarshita, said, "The very concept is wrong. Rs 1,000 can hardly fetch the poor the quantity of grain they need from the open market today. Add inflation, and what would you get four years later?"
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit had convened a meeting with representatives of several NGOs on Wednesday, wherein she reportedly said the step was being taken at the behest of Planning Commission.
Parivartan’s Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said, "PDS can make a difference in the life of poor people. PDS is critical for country's food economy. It directly affects food procurement and, in turn stabilises food prices."
Santosh Koli from NGO Parivartan narrated how when her team visited the Raghubir Nagar area on May 5, they were stopped by the authorities.
Kejriwal and Koli, in a press conference on Thursday, alleged, "Dikshit is hell bent on the implementation of cash in lieu of subsidy. She has also threatened to arrest anybody who intervened in the government procedure."
The chief minister, in turn, thought it was too premature to pass a judgement on the exercise. "It is just a pilot project—it is experimental," Dikshit told HT. She, however, refused to comment on any of Parivartan's allegations.
Haroon Yusuf, Delhi's food and supplies minister, only said, "This is a pilot project by United Nations Development Programme."
The NGOs have now formed a 'Ration Vyavastha Sudhar Abhiyan' front and have been stressing on the need to carry out a detailed survey to know what the people want and a detailed debate on the issue.