The Central Government informed the Supreme Court that the claim of the Aam Aadmi Party regarding the launch of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) plan in the NCT of Delhi is “misleading”, as they have claimed to implement it only in Circle 63 Seemapuri with only a handful of transactions with 42 ePoS machines which cannot be considered an implementation of ONORC.
“Further, unless the national portability transactions are rolled out formally in all Fair Price Shops (FPSs) of all Circles of NCT Delhi, in which more than 2000 ePoS machines have been supplied and waiting for operation, it cannot be considered as implementation of ONORC,” the Centre submitted through its affidavit in the Supreme Court.
With regard to the non-implementation of the ONORC in NCT of Delhi, the Centre claimed that a very large number of inter-state migrants are present all across Delhi (such as migrant workers, numerous street dwellers, rag-pickers, migratory labourers, construction workers, rickshaw pullers, auto/taxi drivers, etc.) who do not have access to their National Food Security Act (NFSA) food grains, being away from their own villagers/hometowns, are not able to take the benefit of their quota of subsidised NFSA food grains in Delhi.
It said: “As a part of the ongoing technology driven reforms under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) in the Country, the Union of India had introduced the ‘One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan’ for the nation-wide portability of the ration cards under the NFSA. The ONORC plan aims to empower all NFSA migrant beneficiaries to access their PDS/NFSA food grains from any fair price shops (FPS) of their choice anywhere in the Country by using same/existing ration card with biometric authentication. In short, ONORC makes food security portable.”
The Centre submitted that despite the multitude of Covid-19 related challenges in the past year, a total of 32 States/UTs covering around 69 crore NFSA beneficiaries, i.e. 86% NFSA population in the country were swiftly brought under the ONORC plan by December 2020. “The integration of remaining 4 States/UT of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal is expected to be achieved, depending upon the technical readiness of these States to implement the portability of ration cards. The onus on implementing ONORC is on these states,” it said.
The Centre has further submitted that as part of additional food security measures under Covid-19, under phase III of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY-III), allocation of food grains have been made to all the States/UTs for free of cost distribution to all the AAY and PHH beneficiaries from Central Pool at Rs 5 kg per person per month for two months i.e. May and June 2021. The said allocation under PMGKAY-III has been made to all States/UTs in addition to their respective normal TPDS allocation as per NFSA, 2013. This scheme covers about 80 crore beneficiaries and extended upto November 2021 by the Prime Minister.
The Centre has also submitted that in addition to the above measures, it has undertaken/extended various schemes to enable all States/UTs to obtain any additional quantities of food grains, as per their requirements, under the Open Market Sales Scheme (D) from FCI at subsidized rates for various categories as under:
(A) In view of resurgence of Covid, with the objective to make wheat and rice stocks easily available in open market, Government of India has liberalised OMSS (D) policy for the year 2021-22. Under the policy, rates have been made attractive and uniform rate has been fixed pan India during Covid period.
(B) The Government of India has extended the scheme of supplying food grains to Charitable/Non- Governmental Organizations etc. engaged in relief operations/ running relief camps for migrant labourers/ vulnerable groups due to present Covid situation.
(C) The Government of India has extended the scheme for food grains for all the beneficiaries, who are not covered under NFSA and to whom ration cards have been issued by the State Governments under their own scheme at Rs 5 per kg per person per month.
(D) The Government of India has extended the Scheme for Small (Private) traders for Wheat and sale of Wheat & Rice to State/UT Governments under retail sale.
The Centre has filed its 40-page-affidavit in a suo motu matter titled “In Re: Problems And Miseries Of Migrant Labourers” dealing with the problems and miseries of migrant labourers who had been stranded in the different parts of the Country amid the COVID19 pandemic. The Supreme Court had reserved its judgment in the matter on June 11, 2021.
Read affidavit below.vFinal-UOI-Migrants-Written-Submissions-13.06.21