As stocks run out fast, govt assures free ration to all
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the scheme on May 18 and it was implemented from June 5.
A large number of temporary food grain distribution centres set up as a lockdown relief measure by the Delhi government for those who don’t possess a ration card ran out of stocks on Tuesday, forcing officials to turn away people, several beneficiaries HT talked to said.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the scheme on May 18 and it was implemented from June 5. Needy people who don’t possess ration cards, including unorganised workers, migrant workers, building and construction workers, domestic helps are eligible to receive food grains under this relief initiative. The Delhi government estimated 2 million such beneficiaries in the city and identified 280 government schools as distribution centres. In the first phase, the government aims to cover 200,000 people.
The Delhi government on Tuesday said the stocks will be replenished soon and grievances raised by several beneficiaries of the scheme will be resolved at the earliest. “We need the ration at any cost. We do not have enough to spend on food grains at this point,” said Pushpa Devi, 43, whose family are migrants from Saran district in Bihar and have their ration cards registered in their home state. Devi reached the Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Narela on Tuesday morning to collect ration but could not get it.
Kaushalya Devi, another beneficiary, who too returned home without ration from a centre in north east Delhi’s Seemapuri, said, “We are already troubled by the delay and now we are forced to line up for ration every day. It is extremely painful.”
On Tuesday, beneficiaries who queued up at distribution centres operating from government schools in several localities including Hauz Rani, Shahpur Jat, Chirag Dilli, Munirka, Seemapuri, RK Puram, Safdarjung Enclave, New Ashok Nagar and Ber Sarai were reportedly turned away after stocks ran out.
Delhi’s food and civil supplies minister Imran Hussain said centres ran out of stocks because a large number of people turned up “in excess of what was expected”. “But people should not be concerned. We have placed orders with the Food Corporation of India for more food grains, which will arrive soon,” he said.
Over the past two days, there were instances of people being denied ration for not carrying identity documents and not having valid mobile numbers, even though the government order has provision for giving food grains on self-declaration in such cases.
Regarding such complaints, Hussain said, “We have taken note of all kinds of grievances reported by the people. We assure you that things will be further streamlined in the coming days to make the entire process smooth and hassle-free. AAP government believes that ration is the right of people.”
Anjali Bhardwaj, Right to Food campaigner and a member of Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, said the centres are running out of stocks since the beneficiaries are way above the government estimates. “The Aam Aadmi Party government has claimed that the situation is not grim this year. But they have capped the total distribution at 200,000 beneficiaries in the first phase, which can extend to a maximum of 2 million -- as against 6.9 million beneficiaries estimated last year. This is the reason why most government schools are out of stock or has not received any food grains. The government should fix this problem at the earliest.”
The Delhi government had launched a similar scheme in March 2020 in light of the pandemic.