NEW DELHI, June 14: The political slugfest between the Delhi government and central government over ration scheme, has reached the Supreme Court. The Centre on Monday informed the top court that the Delhi government’s claims of launching of one nation one ration card (ONORC) is misleading, as the scheme was merely launched in one circle in Seemapuri.
The Centre, in its written submission in the suo moto case of problems and miseries of migrant workers, said: “The claim of GNCTD regarding launch of One Nation One Ration Card plan in NCT of Delhi is misleading, as they claim to have implemented it only in circle 63 Seemapuri (para 9 of Delhi’s Additional Affidavit).
“Only a handful of transactions conducted in single circle with about 42 ePoS machines cannot be considered as implementation of ONORC.”
On Friday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had submitted before a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.R. Shah that Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal, are yet to implement ONORC.
At this juncture, the Delhi government counsel had submitted it has implemented the scheme. The top court had observed that all states must implement the (ONORC) scheme.
The Centre argued a very large number of inter-state migrants are present across Delhi — numerous street dwellers, rag-pickers, migratory labourers, construction workers, rickshaw pullers, auto/taxidrivers, etc. — who do not have access to their National Food Security Act (NFSA) food grains.
In the absence of full implementation of ONORC, the Centre said migrant workers will not able to take the benefit of their quota of subsidised NFSA food grains in Delhi.
“Further, unless the national portability transactions are rolled out formally in all the FPSs (fair price shops) of all circles of NCT Delhi, in which more than 2,000 ePoS machines have been supplied and waiting for operation, it cannot be considered as implementation of ONORC”, submitted the Centre.
The Centre claimed that despite several Covid-19 related challenges, a total of 32 states/UTs covering around 69 Crore NFSA beneficiaries, i.e. 86 per cent of NFSA population in the country were swiftly brought under the ONORC plan by December 2020.
The Centre has emphasized that ONORC primarily aims to enable migratory NFSA beneficiaries, to access the public distribution system (PDS) and they can lift their entitled food grains from any ePoS enabled FPS in the country through portability.
“It is submitted that, portability gives that choice, while at the same time enabling the family back home to draw the remainder of the eligible ration,” said the Centre in its submission in the top court.
The Arvind Kejriwal government has claimed that Centre has stopped its ambitious doorstep delivery of ration scheme, which was set to be launched soon.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said the ration delivery to homes sounds like a novel idea, but there are loopholes and possibilities for corruption, and questioned Delhi government, why it has not implemented Centre’s ONORC scheme yet?
He added the scheme ensures economically weaker sections get subsidised food grains and guards against corruption by linking distribution to Aadhaar card’s biometrics.
After hearing detailed arguments from the Centre and state governments, the top court has reserved its judgment in the matter.