Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann stated on Monday that foodgrains would be delivered to beneficiaries’ homes. The state government would supply wheat in bags to the doorsteps of the recipients under the Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna. The Indian Express outlines how the initiative will function and whether it will succeed:
What exactly is the new plan?
The beneficiaries of the state government’s Atta-Dal Scheme, which is a customised version of the Centre’s Food Security Act, will receive rations at their doorsteps under the new Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna, which was announced by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. The system will be optional, and anyone who does not wish to line outside of fair pricing stores or ration depots might choose to participate.
The Atta-Dal plan in Punjab has 1.54 crore individual beneficiaries (in 43 lakh homes). Every month, the government distributes 5 kg of wheat to each beneficiary for Rs 2 per kilogramme. While the scheme is titled after wheat flour and pulses, due to a lack of funding, the state has been unable to provide pulses (ground black grammes, which are favoured in Punjab over lentils). Various political parties have also promised tea leaves and sugar, but due to a lack of funding, this has never materialised.
Who is behind the scheme’s funding?
The National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013 provides funding for the scheme, which will benefit 1.43 lakh people (comprising 36 lakh families). These are the BPL families identified by the Centre. Punjab has added its list of recipients by issuing Blue Cards to them. The annual income of these beneficiaries is less than Rs 30,000, which is higher than the Centre’s BPL income limit. Punjab claims that Punjabis have a higher level of life than the rest of the country. Every year, the Centre pays the subsidy bill of 36 lakh families, totalling Rs 1700 crore. In addition, it covers half of the transportation costs. The state government is responsible for the remaining 7 lakh families.
What is the method of distribution?
Previously, the state provided wheat flour to the recipients. However, after receiving complaints about flour spoiling or being found contaminated, it was decided to supply wheat instead. Ration depots in cities and villages now give wheat once every three months.
How many ration stations are involved in the operation?
In the state, there are 26,000 ration depots. For biometric authentication of each beneficiary, they use Electronic Point of Sale (e-POS) machines. The quarterly delivery takes nearly a month because 16 depots use a single EPOS machine, which slows down the distribution process. Around 300 people are listed as beneficiaries at each depot. The machine is moved around to several depots. Queues form as a result of this.
Is this a carbon copy of a scheme launched by the Delhi government?
Punjab is working on the logistics despite certain reservations. Government officials believe the Centre, which rejected the idea in Delhi, will not pay for the transportation costs associated with house delivery. In addition, the state does not have enough staff to distribute rations to beneficiaries’ homes.