Doorstep delivery scheme face-off: Centre wrote to Delhi govt over ‘ration quality’ in city
New Delhi: A day before it red-flagged the Delhi government’s doorstep ration delivery scheme on March 19, the Union ministry of food and public distribution pulled up the state administration for “repeated delays” in submitting action-taken reports required to be filed on the use of electronic point of sale (e-POS) machines in ration shops and on improving the “quality” of subsidised foodgrains being disbursed in the Capital, according to government documents
New Delhi: A day before it red-flagged the Delhi government’s doorstep ration delivery scheme on March 19, the Union ministry of food and public distribution pulled up the state administration for “repeated delays” in submitting action-taken reports required to be filed on the use of electronic point of sale (e-POS) machines in ration shops and on improving the “quality” of subsidised foodgrains being disbursed in the Capital, according to government documents.
The ministry wrote two letters to the government on March 18. While one was a reminder to submit a report on the quality of foodgrains being distributed and on steps taken to remove discrepancies in the city’s public distribution system, the other was about a delay in the trial of e-POS machines in Delhi’s 2,000-odd fair price shops (FPS).
HT has seen the documents.
A day later, on March 19, the Union ministry raised objections to the doorstep ration delivery scheme, saying its name, cost and method of delivery were not in accordance with the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The Delhi government said that the Centre was trying to block its flagship scheme, and altered the name of the programme on March 24 so that it could be implemented.
However, the Union government later said that there were other problems related to distribution.
One of the two letters sent by the Union ministry on March 18 read: “GNCTD (the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi government) had informed this (the Union ministry of food and public distribution) department that the trial and testing of portability transactions under ‘one nation one ration card’ (ONORC) shall be done shortly. Further, during the meeting convened by the Union home secretary on February 23, 2021, GNCTD informed that the results of the trial and testing of portability transactions shall be shared within one week. The same are still awaited.”
Another official said that Union food minister Piyush Goyal had written to the Delhi government, asking them to adopt the ONORC
The second letter sent to the Delhi government on March 18 was a reminder asking it to respond to an October 23, 2020, letter from Union food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey to chief secretary Vijay Dev, which said that routine inspections at 71 fair price shops showed that 30% of ration being distributed in Delhi was unfit for consumption.
The letter said that 90 of the 138 samples were beyond the rejection limit (BRL) as mandated by the Centre’s uniform specifications of foodgrains (wheat and rice). The letter also contended that 42 other samples (18 wheat and 24 rice) were “unfit for human consumption.”
Delhi food and civil supplies minister Imran Hussain said, “As far as the use of the e-POS machines in ration shops is concerned, the ONORC and door-to-door ration schemes in Delhi will be ensured in all ration shops. The state cabinet took this call, and it has been brought to the Centre’s notice,” he said.
Hussain also said foodgrains being sent from the Centre’s godowns were of “poor quality.”
“During last year’s lockdown, we had complained to the Centre about the rotten ration we received from them. I even wrote a letter to the concerned Union minister, demanding immediate action. We had returned the rotten ration,” Hussain said.
Delhi chief secretary Dev and secretary-cum-commissioner (food and civil supplies) Padmini Singla did not respond to queries sent by HT.