HC asks Delhi govt why it cannot continue its lockdown foodgrain distribution scheme
The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the response of the Delhi government on a plea seeking resumption of the scheme under which foodgrains was provided during Covid-19 lockdown to those not covered under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad issued notice to the city government seeking its stand on the plea, which also seeks resumption of the hunger relief centres for providing cooked meals to those in need. It also sought to know why it cannot extend the Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayta Yojna (MMCSY) till the pandemic persists.
In April 2020, the Delhi government under the Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayta Yojna (MMCSY) set up the e-coupon system for giving rations to 10 lakh people, which was later extended to cover 30 lakh people not covered under the Public Distribution System (PDS covers 71.3 lakh people or 37% population of Delhi).
On April 27, the Delhi high court had directed that ration must be given to all needy persons. Pursuant to these directions, the e-coupon scheme was extended for another month, till May 2020. Further based on orders of the high court, the government went beyond the quota of 30 lakhs for the MMCSY and kept the application system open. It then received 54 lakhs applications for e-coupons from people not covered under the PDS.”However, the government has not extended the scheme for a second time and therefore, people without ration cards are not being provided any foodgrains by the government,” the fresh plea says.
Appearing for the Delhi government, additional solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain and additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, told the court that the scheme was for the period when due to lockdown there was cessation of economic activity. They said that it was a “one-time” relief package and was discontinued after the lockdown was lifted.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Delhi Rozi Roti Abhiyan Adhikaar seeking direction to the Delhi government to continue accepting e-coupon applications under the MMCSY scheme and to continue operating kiosks and help desks facilitating them.
The application has contended that the government’s discontinuance of the scheme of distribution of foodgrain to non-ration card holders (non-PDS), despite the national disaster declaration still being in force and despite no measure of normalcy having returned in the country or the state, was a violation of the right to food and right to life of lakhs of people of Delhi.
The NGO has also said in its application that the Centre has extended till November its Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) under which existing ration card holders will be provided additional 5 kgs of grains per person and 1 kg of pulse per household free of cost on account of the continuing economic distress among people.
The matter would be now heard on August 17.