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Enable ‘transparent’ distribution of foodgrains through ePOS devices: Food ministry to Delhi govt

Amid the row over doorstep delivery of ration between the Centre and Delhi government, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on Friday issued directions to the state government, under Section 38 of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), and asked it to enable “transparent” distribution of foodgrains through e-PoS devices.

In a communication to Delhi’s Secretary-cum-Commissioner (Food & Civil Supplies Department), the Ministry also asked the Delhi government to send a “compliance” report by the month-end.

The Ministry said Delhi had adopted NFSA from October 2013, however, compliance of “key provisions/sections” of the Act remains pending in the Union Territory till date. It highlighted non-compliance of sections 12, 28, 29 and 38. Section 12 of the NFSA has provisions regarding reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System, including use of “Aadhaar” and information and communication technology.

“By not operationalising e-PoS devices at the FPSs (for transparent distribution of foodgrains), GNCTD is in violation of Section 12 of the Act. Reforms under TPDS are mandated under the Act to promote transparency and rightful targeting,” the Ministry said.

“In this connection, this Department has been continuously pursuing implementation of ePoS distribution of foodgrains from all FPSs of Delhi for the last 3 years. More than 12 letters/DOs have been written to GNCTD from all levels in this Department. However, distribution of foodgrains in Delhi is still being done using old/manual register based mechanisms.

“Further, this non-compliance is also blocking implementation of One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) for numerous migrant beneficiaries in the national capital,” the Ministry said.

Raising the issue of non-compliance of Section 28 of the NFSA, which deals with the social audits on “functioning of fair price shops”, the Ministry said Delhi has not put in place any such machinery and no social audits are being conducted. “No response from GNCTD has been received in this regard so far,” the Ministry said.

The Centre also highlighted non-constitution of vigilance committees under Section 29 of the NFSA. “GNCTD has not set up vigilance committees at the FPS level which is the most important level for monitoring implementation of NFSA at the grass root levels,” the Ministry said.

It also mentioned non-compliance of Section 38, under which it had issued directions to all states to maintain data on NFSA beneficiaries under the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST). “The Government of Delhi, in this case, seems to be insensitive to needs and rights of this vulnerable section of the society and to ensure that benefits mandated under the Act are reaching them,” the Ministry said.

“Hence, directives are hereby given under Section 38 of the NFSA that GNCTD shall take steps to fulfil pending obligations of Section 12 of the Act immediately to enable transparent distribution of foodgrains (through ePoS devices) under both NFSA and PM-GKAY to all NFSA beneficiaries in Delhi, including migrants through One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan,” it said, adding, “A compliance to this effect may be sent by 30h June 2021.”

The Ministry’s direction comes days after the Union Food Secretary’s letter to Delhi Chief Secretary over the same issue.

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