Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has shot off a six-page note to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal in a fresh bid to get the flagship doorstep delivery of ration scheme off the ground. Divided into six heads, the long note builds a case for the doorstep delivery of ration in Delhi during the pandemic.
At the very outset, Kejriwal says, “There appears to be a serious misunderstanding. The instant matter in front of the Hon’able LG is not approval of the scheme of doorstep delivery of ration. The scheme has already attained finality." Earlier, Delhi LG, Baijal had returned the file pertaining to doorstep delivery of ration to the elected government for ‘ reconsideration’.
In the first part, the chief minister delves exhaustively into the various decisions of the Delhi Cabinet pertaining to doorstep delivery of ration. The chief minister points out when the cabinet decision approving the doorstep delivery of the ration scheme on March 6, 2018, was communicated to the Lieutenant Governor, the latter did not express any difference of opinion. When the Delhi Cabinet approved certain modifications to the scheme on July 21, 2020, and decided to name the scheme Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana, and at the same time decided that e-PoS devices be installed in all fair price shops to facilitate the implementation of ‘ One Nation One Ration Card ‘ scheme and that these can be implemented simultaneously on the ground, there were no objections expressed by the Lieutenant Governor.
Further, on October 9 last year, when the Cabinet decided to implement the scheme in two stages and communicated the decision to the LG, no difference of opinion was expressed even then. The chief minister says that tenders for the scheme were issued on October 15 and 19, the scheme was notified on February 19 and a copy of the notification was also sent to Baijal immediately.
Kejriwal argues," As per the Supreme Court order dated 04.07.2018, Hon’able LG had yet another chance to express his difference of opinion with the said scheme/ notification. However, Hon’abke LG did not express any difference of opinion on the same. Therefore the said scheme has already attained finality. The whole scheme is not under consideration at this stage."
The second part of the note deals with the removal of grounds of objections of the central government. The chief minister says that through this cabinet decision, effectively all the objections of the central government were removed, however, all steps taken for the implementation of the scheme including tenders would remain valid, pointing out again that when this decision was communicated to the Lieutenant Governor, the latter did not express any difference of opinion following which a modified notification was issued. Kejriwal says, “It is this new notification ( issued on 24.03.2021) which is the subject of the instant consideration. Hon’ble LG has to decide whether he agrees with the new notification, removing objections of the central government. The whole scheme is not the subject of the instant consideration. Kejriwal goes on to argue that the whole scheme is in fact meant to implement the central government’s order asking state governments to ensure home delivery of ration to senior citizens, differently able people and pregnant women, just that the Delhi government has moved a step forward to expand it to include all categories of people even while keeping the choice of procuring ration from Fair Price Shops also alive."
In the third part, the chief minister deals with clarifications on the Lieutenant Governor’s observations noting that the latter’s insistence on referring the matter to the central government for its approval does not appear to be correct. The chief minister says, “The approval of the central government is neither mandated nor necessary," arguing that the Delhi government has merely implemented the central government’s orders and detailing the various communication between the two on this matter. Referring to the other observation by the Lieutenant Governor that a case is going on in the High Court, Kejriwal points out that even after five hearings, the High Court has not stayed the scheme and neither has the central government in its affidavit has said that its prior approval is required for the same.
In the fourth part of the note, Kejriwal argues that there is an urgent need to implement the doorstep delivery of ration in view of the ongoing pandemic and apprehensions about a third wave of the Corona Virus. Pointing out that all of India’s neighbouring countries, some of them with less robust political and economic systems have, yet again fared better than India in guaranteeing this most basic and fundamental human right, the right to food, Kejriwal argues that it is the implementation of the National Food Security Act that is responsible for this, that even though it secures legal guarantee to adequate and nutritious food, India keeps slipping on the Global Hunger Index.
In the fifth part of the note, Kejriwal argues that the salient features of the doorstep delivery of ration same are, in fact, in consonance with the vision of the central government as enunciated in its order to ensure doorstep delivery of ration to differently able people, senior citizens and pregnant women. In the sixth part, Kejriwal, in a response to the central government’s concerns argues that the scheme is, in fact, ‘ squarely and indisputably within the ambit of the NFSA ‘. Kejriwal points out that it is the obligation of the state governments under section 24 (2) (b) of the NFSA to ensure actual delivery entitlement to the beneficiary, under section 12 (1), state governments are entitled to undertake reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System and Section 3 (3) also allows for the distribution of flour instead of wheat grains. The chief minister points out that Odisha and Andhra Pradesh have already developed the doorstep delivery model while in neighbouring Haryana, doorstep delivery of ration has been started in Faridabad and flour is being distributed in Ambala and Karnal. The two flagship programmes of the central government, that is the installation of e-POS and Adhaar seeding have been incorporated in the Delhi government’s ambitious doorstep delivery of ration scheme.
The chief minister’s response to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal comes after the latter had made a public appeal to the Prime Minister to give go-ahead to the scheme.