Delhi government claims Centre 'stalled' its doorstep delivery of ration scheme

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New Delhi, June 5 (PTI) The Delhi government on Saturday claimed the Centre has 'stalled' its ambitious doorstep delivery of ration scheme that would have benefitted 72 lakh ration card holders in the national capital and termed the move 'politically motivated.' The Central government, however, described the allegation as 'baseless'.

Also, sources privy to the development, claimed the lieutenant governor has not rejected the proposal as was being 'portrayed' by the Delhi government.

'The file related to the notification of the scheme, proposed to be implemented through private vendors, has been returned for reconsideration to the chief minister by the LG,' they said.

While asserting that it was prepared to launch the scheme in the next few days, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), in a statement, claimed the lieutenant governor returned the file on June 2 stating the scheme cannot be implemented.

It said, 'The LG has rejected the file for implementation of doorstep delivery of ration citing two reasons -- the Centre is yet to approve the scheme and an ongoing court case.' Delhi Food Minister Imran Hussain claimed that according to law, no approval is required for launching such a scheme.

'More than six letters were sent to the Centre by the Delhi government since 2018 informing them of the scheme. Citing of an ongoing court case, wherein no stay has been ordered, to stop the rollout of such a revolutionary scheme makes it clear that this decision is politically motivated,' Hussain charged.

The Delhi government was all set to launch the doorstep delivery of ration scheme within one to two days, benefiting 72 lakh poor beneficiaries, said the CMO statement.

It claimed that after accepting all suggestions of the Centre, the Delhi government had sent the file for final approval and immediate rollout of the scheme to the LG on May 24 which was returned by him 'rejecting' the scheme.

Earlier, the name of the scheme -- 'Mukhyamantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana' -- was dropped by the Delhi government on the objection raised by the Centre.

However, a source, while claiming that the LG has not rejected the proposal, said, 'It has been advised again, like earlier on March 20, 2018, that since the proposal seeks to change the method of distribution, it would mandatorily require prior approval of Centre as per Section 12 (2) (h) of the National Food Security Act 2013.' Also, a petition has been filed by the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh in the High Court challenging the proposed arrangement of doorstep delivery of ration by the Delhi government. The Centre is a party to the petition scheduled to be heard on August 20, the source said.

Under the scheme, every beneficiary was entitled to receive 4 kg of flour and one kg of rice cleaned and packed at their doorstep.

The Delhi government had completed the preparatory work for the implementation of the scheme. Tenders had been awarded, a letter of intent had been released, and vendors had been appointed for doorstep delivery, according to the CMO statement.

'The Centre's obstruction also severely compromises Delhi's fight against a possible third wave of coronavirus. People forced to stand in long queues outside ration shops may contract the infection and could pass it on to their children. Keeping this in mind, the Delhi government had fast-tracked implementation of this scheme,' it said.

The Central government said in its statement that it has not asked the Delhi government to not to distribute the ration the way they want. 'They can do so under any other scheme. The Government of India will provide additional ration for the same according to notified rates. Where is the issue?' It's absolutely wrong to say that the Government of India is preventing anyone from doing something, it said.

'In fact, the Government of India (GOI) is ready to grant additional ration to Delhi to distribute it whichever way they want. Why would the GOI deprive the citizens of any welfare scheme of government? 'Have another scheme. Give it any name. GOI will provide an additional ration. Why insist to disrupt an existing pan-India scheme which is under National Food Security Act?' the Central government said.

It alleged that the Delhi government wants to tinker with that a nationally administered programme at the cost of the national capital's consumers by charging the cost of milling and others from them.

The Government of India had only informed them about the rule, it added. PTI VIT LUX NSD NSD