Food ministry asks Delhi govt to expedite Centre’s ration scheme

Amid the ongoing row between the Centre and the Delhi government over doorstep delivery of ration, the Union Food Ministry Tuesday asked the state government to use electronic Point of Sales (ePoS) devices in all fair price shops (FPSs) and ensure implementation of the Centre’s One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme at the “earliest”.

In a letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev, Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey wrote, “ln view of immense advantages to people, I shall be grateful for your personal intervention for expeditious resumption of ePoS devices in all FPSs of Delhi for transparency in distribution of foodgrains and ensure the implementation of One Nation One Ration Card plan at the earliest.”

Delhi is one of the four remaining states and union territories that are yet to implement the ONORC scheme; the other three being Assam, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.

The scheme was launched in August 2019 and 32 states and UTs have already implemented it.

“Since, One Nation One Ration Card is a technology-driven process to enable intra-state and inter-state portability of ration card holders, it is highly dependent on availability of ePoS devices at all FPSs,” Pandey wrote.

He added that about 10 lakh migrant workers in Delhi will benefit from implementation of the scheme, which has been “impeded due to non-functioning of ePoS devices at FPSs”.

“Considering the prevailing situation of Covid pandemic and looking at the difficulty faced by migrants, facility of inter-state portability will ensure delivery of ration to a large number of migrant workers in Delhi. This will help them avail their entitled foodgrains on subsidised rate and also improve their ease of living,” Pandey wrote.

Earlier this year, Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal had also written to the Delhi government to “consider expeditious resumption” of ePoS devices in all FPSs for transparency in distribution of foodgrains, and to ensure the implementation of ONORC scheme at the earliest.

“However, progress in this regard is yet to be made,” Pandey wrote.

The inter-state pilot of the ONORC scheme was launched in four states in August 2019. Till December 2020, it had been implemented across 32 states and union territories, covering about 69 crore or 86 per cent of the total beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

According to the Food Ministry, a total of more than 27.83 crore portability transactions (including intra-state transactions) have taken place across all these states/UTs since the inception of ONORC in August 2019, out of which almost 19.8 crore portability transactions have been recorded during the Covid period of April 2020 to May 2021 itself.

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