Food Ministry accuses Delhi govt. of violating National Food Security Act
The Centre has accused the Delhi government of violating the National Food Security Act (NFSA) by failing to operationalise electronic point of sale (ePoS) devices at its ration shops and implement the One Nation One Ration Card scheme. In a letter on Thursday, the Food Ministry issued an ultimatum to the State government, demanding that action is taken by the end of the month.
Section 12 of the NFSA says that the Centre and States shall endeavour to undertake reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), including the “application of information and communication technology tools including end-to-end computerisation to ensure transparent recording of transactions at all levels, and to prevent diversion,” as well as leveraging Aadhaar and ensuring full transparency of records.
“By not operationalising ePoS devices at the fair price shops (for transparent distribution of foodgrains), GNCTD is in violation of the Section-12 of the Act. Reforms under TPDS are mandated under the Act to promote transparency and rightful targeting,” said the letter, noting that the Food Ministry has written more than 12 letters on the issue over the last three years. “However, the distribution of foodgrains in Delhi is still being done using old/manual register-based mechanisms. Further, this non-compliance is also blocking the implementation of One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) for numerous migrant beneficiaries in the National Capital,” it added.
The Ministry also emphasised the clause calling for doorstep delivery to TPDS outlets, distinguishing it from the Delhi government’s drive to deliver ration to the homes of beneficiaries.
‘No social audit’
The letter added that the Delhi government failed to comply with Sections 28 and 29 of the NFSA by not conducting periodic social audits on the functioning of fair price shops or setting up vigilance committees at the grassroots level.
The Ministry also accused the Delhi government of being “insensitive to the needs and rights” of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by dismissing a directive to maintain data on beneficiaries from these communities. “It is very unfortunate that while other State governments have assured that they would do the needful in this regard, GNCTD merely informed that the data was not available with them,” said the letter.
Citing Section 38, which says that the State governments shall comply with directions issued by the Centre for the effective implementation of the NFSA, the Food Ministry issued directives to the State to “take steps to fulfil the pending obligations of Section 12 of the Act immediately to enable the transparent distribution of foodgrains (through ePoS devices) under both NFSA and PM-GKAY to all NFSA beneficiaries in Delhi, including migrants through One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan. A compliance to this effect may be sent by June 30, 2021.”
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