Food Ministry vetoes Delhi’s ration delivery scheme

‘Foodgrains under NFSA can’t be clubbed with State’s scheme’

Updated - March 20, 2021 12:52 am IST

Published - March 20, 2021 12:51 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Centre has now put a stop to the Delhi government’s plans to roll out the scheme by March end.

The Centre has now put a stop to the Delhi government’s plans to roll out the scheme by March end.

The Centre has vetoed the Delhi government’s scheme for doorstep delivery of rations, titled Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana, which was set to include packaged rice, wheat flour and sugar.

Centrally-funded rations given under the National Food Security Act cannot be clubbed with additional State rations under a scheme with a new name, the Food Ministry told the Delhi government on Friday.

The NFSA provides 5kg of subsidised rice and wheat per month to 81 crore people across the country through a network of fair price shops.

The scheme approved by the Delhi Cabinet in July 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic proposed to process and package these grains into wheat flour and packaged rice, add a ration of sugar and deliver it directly to citizens, so they would not have to queue up at the shops.

The Centre has now put a stop to the Delhi government’s plans to roll out the scheme by the end of the month. Subsidised foodgrains being allotted by the Food Ministry under the NFSA cannot be used to operationalise any State-specific scheme using a different name, said Food Ministry joint secretary S. Jagannathan in a letter to Delhi Food Secretary Padmini Singla on Friday.

“While States may like to enhance the distribution of subsidised foodgrains, including additional entitlements, more subsidy, etc, the nomenclature [change] from NFSA to any State scheme name may be misinterpreted by the beneficiaries as State benefit and may give rise to confusion regarding their rights under the Act,” said the letter.

It added that while the use of a new scheme name to distribute NFSA foodgrains was not permissible, “this department will have no objection if a separate scheme is made by the State government without mixing the elements of the NFSA foodgrains”.

“If all the States and Union Territories start changing the basic rules of PDS [or Public Distribution System] implementation, it will become almost impossible to implement it nationwide. Measurable tools of PDS monitoring will also break down. States are free to have their own schemes over and above this,” added a Food Ministry spokesperson.

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