Doorstep ration delivery scheme should be implemented across India in view of Covid-19: Kejriwal

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‘Centre prevented ‘big scam’ of AAP govt,’ says BJP

 New Delhi, June 6 (PTI): Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi why the doorstep ration delivery scheme by his government was stalled by the Centre and appealed to him to allow its implementation in the national interest.

He said the scheme should be implemented across the country in view of Covid-19 otherwise ration shops will act as ‘super-spreaders’.

“If pizza, burgers, smartphones and clothes can be delivered at home, then why can’t ration be delivered at their doorstep,” Kejriwal asked.

He alleged that the Centre was fighting with everyone, including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra, Delhi and Jharkhand governments, farmers and the people of Lakshadweep.

“People are distressed that the Central government is fighting everyone. If we fight like this, how will we tackle Covid-19,” the chief minister said at an online briefing.

“The Delhi government legally did not require the Centre’s approval for the implementation of the scheme, but it sought permission five times to avoid any dispute,” Kejriwal said.

The Delhi government on Saturday had claimed the doorstep delivery of ration scheme was rejected by the Lt Governor saying the Centre’s approval was not sought and that a litigation was pending in the high court regarding it.

Moreover, the BJP on Sunday claimed that the Centre has forestalled a ‘big scam’ that the Delhi’s AAP government might have committed by ‘diverting’ subsidised food grains, as it hit back at chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for targeting the Central dispensation for stopping his scheme of doorstep delivery of ration.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Delhi government is free to run such a scheme by purchasing grains at a notified rate, but it has no right to tweak or stop a national programme of subsidised ration distribution under the Food Security Act to launch its own plan.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, Patra also claimed that there is zero Aadhaar card authentication in Delhi against the national average of 80 per cent and that the Kejriwal government had also earlier stopped the operation of POS machines, which allow biometric verification.

It means there is no way one can find out if the food grains are being delivered to the needy or diverted, he alleged.

The Central government has said that Delhi government’s claim was ‘baseless’ that its doorstep delivery scheme was rejected.

Kejriwal said he was ‘deeply anguished’ over Centre’s rejection of the doorstep delivery of ration scheme and wanted to directly ask the Prime Minister why was it stalled.

He said the scheme would have finished the powerful ration mafia in Delhi whom he had fought while working in Delhi’s slums 17 years ago and faced attacks several times.

“If you stand with the ration mafia, who will stand with the poor people,” the chief minister said, adding that the scheme was intended to benefit 72 lakh people in the national capital.

This ration mafia has strong connections which is evident now as they got the doorstep delivery scheme rejected, he said and added that the Delhi government had made all preparations and was going to launch it in a few days.

He said one reason given by the Centre for rejecting the scheme was that a case has been filed by some ration shop owners in the high court. But the court did not stay the scheme and even the Central government did not raise any objection there, the chief minister said.

“Even the name of the scheme was changed after the objection of the Central government and yet they are saying no approval was sought. How else do you get approval?,” he questioned.

The chief minister claimed that it was being said by some Central government officers that the Delhi government cannot take credit for the scheme by using the ration provided by the Centre.

“I am not doing this for credit. Please allow implementation of doorstep delivery of ration scheme and I will myself tell everyone that it was done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Kejriwal said.

He said the ration does not belong to the BJP or the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) but the people of the country.

“It is the responsibility of both of us that it reaches the people without theft,” he stated.

The Union Food and Public Distribution ministry on Saturday said it has not asked the Delhi government to not to distribute the ration the way they want.

“They can do so under any other scheme. The Government of India will provide additional ration for the same as per notified rates. Where is the issue?,” it had said.

The Delhi government wants to ‘tinker with’ that nationally administered programme at the cost of Delhi consumers by charging the cost of milling etc from them. The Government of India had only informed them about the rule position, it had claimed further.

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