The Delhi government’s ambitious food security scheme is being touted as a ‘game changer’ this poll season.
To be launched on Tuesday by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the occasion of the birth anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the scheme aims at ensuring that the city’s poor get essential food commodities such as wheat and rice at cheap rates.
The launch comes at a time when the assembly elections are just three months away and the Delhi government is facing flak from all quarters over skyrocketing prices of vegetables, especially onions.
The food security scheme will come into force from September 1 and will initially cover 32.27 lakh people - about 20% of Delhi’s population - which currently gets wheat, rice and sugar at subsidised rates through the public distribution system.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said her government ultimately aims at providing food security to 73.5 lakh people, i.e. 44% of Delhi’s total population. “We have made all necessary arrangements to implement the scheme,” Dikshit said.
The beneficiaries include people getting ration through PDS under the Antodaya, below poverty line, jhuggi ration card (JRC) and resettlement colonies ration cards (RCRC) schemes. About 5.22 lakh beneficiary families are being given special cards, a Delhi government official said.
Dikshit recently called a meeting of her party MLAs and councillors to share the benefits of the scheme and asked them to popularise it in their respective areas.
The government has also decided to include homeless people, daily wage-earners, rag-pickers as well as people living in resettlement colonies and slum clusters in the first phase of the implementation of the scheme.
No income tax payers, vehicle and house owners will be included in the scheme in the first phase, officials said. The second and final phase of the scheme will be launched in February next year.
Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel said the city government was implementing the scheme to gain political mileage. “The Congress government is completely ill-prepared to implement the programme. The PDS system is already in a shambles and the government wants to implement it through the same network. There is confusion over the identification of beneficiaries as well,” Goel said.