If Delhi committed itself grandiosely to the task, with just one month to go for the deadline last month, it was not just because state elections are only months away. It's also because the Delhi government is expected to have the easiest time implementing the scheme.
While the infrastructure is largely in place and the state is manageably small compared to its counterparts, sources in the government said all departments connected to the scheme'Food and Civil Supplies, Finance, Social Welfare and Revenue'have virtually put on hold everything else to ensure the scheme's successful launch. Over the last month, the task before these departments included identifying beneficiaries, developing a distribution system and acquiring enough food grains to begin effective implementation.
From what it appears now, the implementation will be in two phases. "The scheme intends to benefit at least 5.1 lakh families or 32 lakh people in Delhi. The benefit will be given through the seniormost woman member of the family in order to further empower the women in the Capital city," Dikshit said.
Under the scheme, the identified families are eligible for wheat at Rs 2 per kg, rice at Rs 3 per kg and coarse grains at Re 1 per kg. The Delhi government has worked out that a total of 72 lakh families will be covered under the scheme. In other ways, just under half the city's population of around 1.7 crore will be beneficiaries, tying up nicely with the Congress's campaign in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
A senior functionary of the Delhi PCC admitted they have high hopes of the scheme. "Delhi will be among the first states to implement the scheme and with Assembly elections in November, the government is working hard to ensure no glitches. All Congress workers are expected to highlight this scheme in the run-up to the elections."
A committee with Delhi Food and Civil Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf as chairman and including principal secretary, finance, and food commissioner worked out all the logistics and the groundwork needed.
The first phase of implementation includes four categories of ration card holders. "BPL card holders, Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) card holders, jhuggi ration card holders and resettlement colony ration card holders will be part of the first phase. They will start getting benefits from September 1 onwards," a senior government official said.
The Delhi government also intends to issue smart cards to beneficiaries to improve transparency and plug holes in the Public Distribution System (PDS). "On August 20, the government will issue 2,000 smart cards, through which food grains will be issued. Once smart cards are issued, they will no longer need ration cards. The remaining families will get smart cards as and when they are manufactured and can use existing ration cards till then," Haroon Yusuf said.
According to Yusuf, the smart cards would make up for any loopholes in the present PDS. "The smart cards will be Aadhar-linked, which will ensure that there can be only one card per person. At present, it is possible for one person to own multiple cards. The smart cards will also help eliminate the use of fake ration cards," a senior government official said.
Sources in the government stated that 98 per cent of Delhi's 1.7 crore population was registered either with Aadhar or with the National Population Register. "At present we have around 1.5 crore Aadhar registrations and 70 lakh registrations with the National Population Register (NPR). We are gathering these records and feeding them into our system to implement the food security scheme," said a senior official.
For the first phase of implementation, the government does not expect to increase their warehousing capacity. "For all existing schemes, we procure grains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and will continue to do so. The CM has had multiple meetings with Union Food Minister K V Thomas to iron out any issues before the rollout," Yusuf said.
Haryana launch in Panipat
Haryana is also all set to implement the food security scheme from August 20. The launch, to be attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, will be in Panipat. The state government has decided the criteria and 1.35 crore people will benefit from the scheme. The state has also decided to add pulses in the scheme for BPL Antyodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) beneficiaries. The state has 12.5 lakh BPL and AAY beneficiaries.