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Kejriwal expands free ration scheme to cover an additional 3 million poor non-ration card holders

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON APR 21, 2020 10:57 PM IST

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday announced that his government’s free ration scheme will be expanded to cover an additional three million poor, non-ration card holders in the capital.

Laying forth his government’s food security plan in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kejriwal said the programme, in addition to a new food coupon scheme, will cover nearly half of Delhi’s population of around 20 million.

Kejriwal, in a digital media address, also said the government will procure 60 ambulances in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Delhi.

“As long as the impact of the coronavirus lasts and the poor are unable to earn their keep, we will ensure their food security. At least 7.1 million people have already been given 7.5kg of ration for free. Then, we gave 5kg ration for free to one million people who did not have ration cards,” he said.

“Today, the government has decided to distribute free 5kg ration to another three million people. So in all, our food security scheme will now cover 11 million people, which is more than half of Delhi’s population,” Kejriwal said.

The chief minister, however, did not specify the period till which the temporary relief will last, but hinted that it will continue until economic activities resume in the city.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, he said, also decided to provide a daily items kit to all beneficiaries, besides the monthly free ration. “Every family with a ration card and also those with e-coupons will be given a basic kit comprising items of daily need, including cooking oil, spices, pulses, sugar, salt, and soap, among others, along with their ration for the month of May when the distribution begins from April 29,” Kejriwal said.

In another welfare measure, aimed to cover several other temporary migrant workers who may not figure in the above two categories of people, Kejriwal announced a food coupon scheme, which he said will be delivered through the people’s representative of the state.

Under the coupon scheme, every MP and MLA representing Delhi will be given 2,000 food coupons each to be distributed among temporary migrant workers, who do not have neither ration cards nor e-coupons (obtained after registering online). The food coupon will make the holder eligible to receive 5kg of free ration. Delhi has 70 MLAs -- 62 from the AAP and eight from the BJP — apart from seven MPs, all from the BJP.

“The three million people who will get free 5kg ration are those who have applied online using ID cards like Aadhaar. But there are people in Delhi who do not have any ID card. Each of these coupons will be enable its holder to get 5kg free ration. The MPs and MLAs can give these coupons to people who do not have a ration card or any ID proof,” Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal also said the government will start Covid-19 testing for media persons from Wednesday, at a centre which is yet to be disclosed by the government.

“We have set up a centre. All media houses and journalists will be informed about it. Interested media persons can undergo tests from Wednesday morning at the centre,” Kejriwal said.

A senior official in the chief minister’s office later said any media person working in the national capital and having a valid media ID card will be accepted for tests. The scheme will include photojournalists as well. The decision comes after more than 50 journalists tested positive for coronavirus in Maharashtra.

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