Just one-third of migrant workers got free ration: Ministry to House panel

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on August 19, 2020

Only 2.51 crore of eight crore migrant workers benefitted from the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, a scheme to provide them free foodgrains and pulses, the officials of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution told the Labour Standing Committee of Parliament on Monday. The scheme, announced in May by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had envisaged distribution of free foodgrains (five kilogrammes per person) and pulses to migrant workers not covered under National Food Security Act or State Public Distribution Scheme.

‘Inadequate explanation’

The scheme, which was initially for two months, has been extended till November recently. The members of the Standing Committee of Parliament grilled the officials of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution the ‘Social Security and Welfare Measures for Inter-State migrant, unorganised and informal sector workers’ on Monday. “We did not get answers for most of our questions. We have given them two weeks’ time for providing more details of the status of the scheme,” a member in the panel said.

Out of 8 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of foodgrains earmarked for the scheme, 6.37 LMT were lifted by the States and just 2.5 LMT were distributed till August 5, the panel was told.

Ration card portability

On the issue of portability of ration cards under the One Nation One Ration Card scheme too, the panel was unhappy with the Ministry’s explanation. “They said more than 24 States have come under its purview. Over 81-crore card holders are there in the country, but 11 States are yet to be registered under e-PDS portal. This has to be done in all fair price shops in all States. But populous States such as Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam are not part of it. Chattissgarh has also expressed unwillingness,” the member said.

The Ministry told the panel that in July, only 2,000 transactions had taken place under the Atma Nirbhar Abhiyan scheme. “Hardly 13,000 people have been benefited. We asked for the number of machines installed in fair price shops for implementing the one ration card scheme. That figure was not provided. It is technology driven. But it has to be implemented. Connectivity is a problem for many States. They have not said how they are going to solve this connectivity issue,” the member added.

Published on August 18, 2020

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