Civil Procedure Code (CPC)

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Key Takeaways

  • One Nation One Ration Card scheme makes food security “portable” and is tailor-made for migrant laborers
  • with the growing number of inter-State migration from villages and rural areas to big cities, the effort was to ensure that migrant workers and their families got assured access to nutrition through national portability of ration cards under the Food Security Act.
  • The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Delhi government's claims of the launching of 'one nation one ration card' (ONORC) in the national capital were misleading as the scheme was initiated only in one area of Seemapuri

Introduction

In India, about 80 crore beneficiaries are entitled to receive subsidized food and grain under the National Food Security Act 2013. However, out of the 80 crore beneficiaries, only 23 crore ration cards have been issued in all the states and Union Territories of the country.

Previously a beneficiary could only purchase subsidized food and grain from the PDS (Public Distribution System) with the ration card which was assigned to them in their locality. Because of this many issues have been faced by the migrants who shift to other cities for work. However, by converting their existing ration card to ONORC, he or she can purchase subsidized food from any FPS shop in any locality and any city.

However, The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Delhi government's claims of the launching of 'one nation one ration card' (ONORC) in the national capital were misleading as the scheme was initiated only in one area of Seemapuri.

What is One Nation One Ration Card

One Nation One ration card (ONORC) was introduced to help in providing grains, rice, and wheat flour at subsidized rates for the economically weaker section of the nation. The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’(ONORC) scheme for the poor in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this conversion of a regular ration card to the One Ration Card, all beneficiaries and cardholders can purchase subsidized food from any Public Distribution Shop all over the country.

The ONORC scheme was rolled out on 16 May during the last phase of the Prime Minister’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan which included stimulus funds of Rs.20 lakh crore. This ration card has been launched in all states and Union Territories in the country and 20 states have already agreed to implement this scheme in their state.

Delhi’s misleading claims

The clash between the Delhi government and central government over ration scheme, has reached the Supreme Court. The Centre 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 initiated only in one area of Seemapuri. It also stated that only a handful of transactions conducted in single circle with about 42 epos machines cannot be considered as implementation of ONORC.

In its submission ofSuo moto case over miseries of migrant workers the Union government pointed out that despite several Covid-related challenges, a total of 32 states/UTs covering around 69 crore National Food Security Act beneficiaries which is about 86 per cent of NFSA population in the country were swiftly brought under the ONORC plan by December 2020.

Concerning the Delhi government's claim, the Centre, in a fresh submission stated that a very large number of inter-state migrants are present here. Numerous street dwellers, rag-pickers, migratory laborers, construction workers, rickshaw pullers, auto/taxi drivers, etc, do not have access to their National Food Security Act (NFSA) food grains. In the absence of full implementation of ONORC the migrant workers will not able to take the benefit of their quota in Delhi.

The Centre further stated that unless the national portability transactions are rolled out formally in all the fair price shops of NCT Delhi, in which more than 2000 ePoS machines have been supplied and waiting for the operation, it cannot be considered as an implementation of ONORC.

The Centre stressed that the integration of remaining four 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 and the onus of implementing ONORC is on these States.

The Supreme Court had reserved its judgment in the matter on June 11, 2021.

Conclusion

The Centre has filed its 40-page-affidavit in a Suo moto matter titled “In Re: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Laboure’s” dealing with the problems and miseries of migrant laborers who had been stranded in the different parts of the country amid the COVID19 pandemic.

A very large number of inter-state migrants are present all across Delhi 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 subsidized NFSA food grains in Delhi. Thus, in our view, the government should take priority in providing relief to the migrant workers and not cause any further delay.


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