A day after the central government blocked its plans to launch doorstep delivery of rations in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused the centre of taking the step under the “influence” of the ration mafia, which he said has ensured that the pro-poor revolutionary scheme does not get implemented in the national capital.
“Just two days before ‘Doorstep Delivery of Ration’ scheme’s implementation in Delhi, the central government stopped it. If pizza delivery can be allowed amid the Covid pandemic, then why not ration?” Mr Kejriwal asked.
Addressing a digital press conference, Mr Kejriwal also disputed the centre’s claim that his government did not take permission for the implementation of the scheme. “We took approval not just once, but five times. Legally, we don’t need Centre’s approval but we did so out of courtesy,” he said.
“For the first time, a government had taken a step to check on ration mafia. See how powerful they are, they got the scheme cancelled just a week ahead of its implementation,” he said.
The doorstep ration delivery scheme, Mr Kejriwal said, would have benefitted 72 lakh ration cardholders in the national capital.
Citing the centre’s confrontation with West Bengal and Jharkhand governments, Mr Kejriwal said that the centre was playing politics instead of helping states battle the pandemic.
“Let me implement the scheme, I will give full credit to you (PM Modi). Ration does not belong to AAP nor the BJP. People want to read that Modiji and Kejriwal helped deliver ration to poor. With folded hands, I on behalf of 70 lakh poor people in Delhi request you to let us implement the scheme,” Mr Kejriwal said.
The central government had flagged several concerns about the scheme in March saying it could result in ration card holders buying grains and other necessities at a higher rate than that fixed under a central law, according to news agency PTI.
According to the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, the scheme could also make it difficult for recipients of the subsidies to relocate and stall a shift towards biometric verification of beneficiaries, PTI reported.
The Delhi government had cleared the proposal to allow home delivery of rations to all cardholders of the capital last year in July to implement one of the major promises made by the Aam Aadmi Party in the run-up to the assembly polls held in February.
The scheme called ‘Mukhya Mantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana’ would let the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 get the rations delivered home, making visits to the shops optional and eliminate corruption, the Delhi government had said.
The Delhi government had initially planned to roll out the scheme in March.