Delhi government resends file on its doorstep ration plan to L-G
- Arvind Kejriwal wrote a note to the L-G on Wednesday, in response to his comments asking the CM to reconsider the proposal and seek the Centre’s approval citing an ongoing court case in the matter.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent the doorstep delivery of ration scheme file back to Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal, contending that its provisions are in accordance with the National Food Security Act, 2013, and that it will simultaneously ensure the implementation of the Centre’s “One Nation, One Ration Card” scheme.
Kejriwal wrote a note to the L-G on Wednesday, in response to Baijal’s comments asking the CM to reconsider the proposal and seek the Centre’s approval citing an ongoing court case in the matter.
The L-G’s office did not comment on the matter.
In his note, Kejriwal said that every decision taken about on the scheme, since its first approval in the Delhi Cabinet in 2018, was communicated to the L-G, who did not express any difference of opinion till February this year. He cited at least five occasions over the past three years when the L-G was informed about the scheme and its modalities.
“There appears to be a serious misunderstanding. The instant matter before the L-G is not ‘approval’ of the scheme of doorstep delivery of ration. The scheme has already attained finality,” said the note, which HT has seen.
He said that it only was in March, when the Delhi government issued another notification changing the scheme’s name -- from Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna, as asked by the central government -- that the LG responded with his objections. “It is this new notification which is the subject of instant consideration. The LG has to decide whether he agrees with the new notification, removing objections of the central government. The whole scheme is not the subject of instant consideration,” Kejriwal said.
This is the second time this year that the scheme has been stalled due to differences between the Delhi government and the Centre. The scheme was to be launched on March 25, but the Union food and consumer affairs ministry wrote to the Delhi government on March 19 raising two objections— the use of the term “mukhyamantri (chief minister)” for a scheme involving the distribution of food grains allocated under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), and that any change in the delivery mechanism requires an amendment in NSFA that can be done only by Parliament.
The Delhi government, on March 24, passed a Cabinet decision to remove the name “Mukhyamantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna” for the scheme and to implement doorstep delivery of ration as part of the existing NFS Act, 2013.
Last Friday, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the plan was a false promise and a scam at the behest of the “ration mafia”, drawing a sharp response from Kejriwal, who accused the Centre of obstructing a public welfare initiative.
The CM, in a three-point rebuttal to the Centre’s view that the Delhi government’s doorstep delivery of ration scheme is in contravention of NFSA, and that implementing it would dent the pan-India public distribution system. He said states such as Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, and cities such as Faridabad, Ambala and Karnal (all in Haryana) have already implemented the doorstep ration delivery model. He said state governments under section 12(I) are empowered to undertake “targeted public distribution system”, including introduction of new scheme to ensure that the food grain entitlements reach the targeted beneficiaries.
“The central government, itself, through an order on February 1, 2018, directed states and Union territories to adopt a system of home delivery of food grains for persons above 65 years of age and differently abled persons. The scheme is squarely and indisputably within the ambit of NFSA and should not give rise to any concern on this front,” Kejriwal wrote to the LG.
On the objection raised by the Centre that the Delhi government will make the beneficiaries pay an additional sum under the scheme, which is not in accordance with the NFSA, Kejriwal said the charge was in the manner prescribed by the central government. He said that any beneficiary who avails doorstep delivery of ration will have to pay ₹2 per kg only for processing the wheat into flour, and that this does not include services such as cleaning, packaging and transportation, and is based on a letter issued by the Union government’s department of food and public distribution on November 3, 2014.
“Last year India ranked 94 out of 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index, whereas in 2019, we were ranked 102 out of 117 countries,” he said.
Delhi currently has around 1.78 million ration card-holder households, which according to government records, translate to 7.2 million beneficiaries. Ration is currently distributed to them through a network of 2,000-odd fair price shops.