State rolls out 1 ration card scheme in Delhi
The Delhi government on Monday issued orders for the complete roll-out of the central government’s ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) programme from this month, following a June 29 Supreme Court order asking Delhi, West Bengal, Assam and Chhattisgarh to implement the scheme fully by July 31.
Monday’s order, issued by the state food supplies and consumer affairs department, stated that the distribution of ration under the National Food Security Act, 2013, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, and any other scheme implemented through fair price shops in the Capital will henceforth be done only through electronic point of sale (e-PoS) devices.
This is a significant turnaround from the government’s April 2018 order, by which it had suspended the distribution of ration through e-PoS devices citing poor Internet connectivity at several parts of the city.
ONORC, introduced in 2019, aims to add digital muscle to the country’s public distribution system (PDS) through which food grains are offered at subsidised rates to about 739 million beneficiaries under the national food security law. ONORC allows a beneficiary, such as a migrant worker, to access her share of subsidised ration from anywhere in the country regardless of the place where her ration card is registered. In other words, it allows mobility of food entitlements.
In Delhi, people can get cheap grains from any of the 2,000 fair price shops. For this, the government will deploy 2,005 e-PoS devices across the capital to get ONORC going.
“Distribution under ONORC scheme will be allowed through all e-PoS enabled FPSs in Delhi as per orders issued by the Government of India from time to time. This facility will be allowed to all migrant beneficiaries under the national portability, who have been identified under NFSA in their parent state…” read the government order, which also instructed all zonal assistant commissioners to ensure full implementation of the scheme.
Later, food and supplies minister Imran Hussain said all the beneficiaries will get ration free of cost in a phased manner through e-PoS on biometric authentication at all fair price shops across Delhi.
“Migrant beneficiaries under national portability having proper ration cards and who have been identified under NFSA in their parent state would also get ration free of cost under this plan. The Delhi government will continue the distribution of free ration till November 2021,” he said.
Restoring the e-PoS system and implementing ONORC may also help the Delhi government launch its own doorstep ration delivery scheme that has been red-flagged by the lieutenant governor and the Centre citing the non-implementation of ONORC or the use of e-PoS devices for ration distribution.
To address any grievances, a helpline number 1967 has been set up where the beneficiaries can register their complaint which includes not receiving ration through e-PoS devices.
Owners of FPSs can contact 9717198833 or 9911698388 for any device-related issue. The order, seen by HT, also states that only families with senior citizens or differently abled people should be identified by the owners of the ration shops for special facilitation to provide subsidised food grains.
Delhi has 1.75 million ration card holders who are beneficiaries of the NFSA, 2013, and about 68,730 “poorest of poor” AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana) families, comprising slightly over 200,000 individuals.
According to the 2011 Census, which is used to calculate the number of beneficiaries, the population of Delhi is 10.67 million of which about 43.5% is entitled to food grains under the food security law.
In the Capital, PDS beneficiaries under the ‘PR’ and ‘PRS’ categories are provided with 5kg of food grains (4kg wheat and 1kg rice) every month under regular entitlement. Under the AAY scheme, regular entitlement is 25kg wheat per household per month, 10kg rice, and 1kg sugar. The cost for this is fixed at ₹2 per kilo for wheat, ₹3 for rice and ₹13.5 for sugar, but it isn’t charged from NFSA or AAY beneficiaries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 7 announced a fourth extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) till Diwali in November this year, to help an estimated 800 million people retain access to free food grain and cope with the impact of the second wave of the pandemic and any future surge in Covid-19 infections.
“The new biometric-based distribution system will show real-time availability of food grains in the public domain. Using e-PoS is a successful mechanism to stop/avoid the ration mafia in PDS operations,” said a senior official from the food and civil supplies department on condition of anonymity.
Hussain also said to ensure hassle-free distribution, FPSs have been directed to mandatorily display a board detailing this entitlement to all beneficiaries.