‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme, which will allow portability of food security benefits, will be available across the country from July 1, 2020. This means poor migrant workers will be able to buy subsidised rice and wheat from any ration shop in the country, so long as their ration cards are linked to Aadhaar.
All the States have been given one more year to use point of sale (PoS) machines in the ration shops and implement the scheme, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told journalists on Saturday. Already, 77% % of the ration shops across the country have PoS machines and more than 85% of people covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) have their cards linked to Aadhaar, he said.
While Aadhaar linkage is not necessary to access NFSA benefits in a beneficiary’s local registered ration shop, located closest to her home address, it will be necessary to access the portability scheme, according to senior Food Ministry officials.
Ten States — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura – already offer this portability, pointed out Mr. Paswan. Delhi had also begun implementing portability, though it was later stopped for technical reasons. Other States, including Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, could easily implement the scheme, as they had PoS machines in all the ration shops.
“This scheme will ensure that no poor person is deprived of subsidised grains,” said the Minister. “We have written to all State governments to fast track its implementation, so that the whole country is ready to implement ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ latest by June 30, 2020.”
A senior Ministry official clarified that migrants would only be eligible for the subsidies supported by the Centre, which include rice sold at Rs. 3/kg and wheat at Rs. 2/kg. Even if a beneficiary moved to a State where grains were given for free, that person would not be able to access those benefits, as they were funded by the State exchequer.
In a bid to reduce nutrition deficiencies among beneficiaries, the Centre would roll out a pilot project in 15 districts to fortify rice grains with iron, folic acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12. The first fortified grains would be available in ration shops from this November.
The State governments have also been given a six-month deadline to bring the operations of their depots and warehouses online, said Mr. Paswan. Ultimately, it would be possible to monitor the entire network of state-owned grain storage facilities, including Central warehouses that were already computerised, using an integrated dashboard.