Kejriwal writes to PM, rejects Centre’s suggestion of Delhi govt’s own scheme for doorstep ration delivery

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, rejecting the Centre’s suggestion that his government should launch the doorstep delivery of ration under a local scheme, instead of using foodgrains meant for public distribution under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

Kejriwal wrote that launching another scheme for doorstep delivery of ration would entail “double expenditure”, and that the Centre should drop its contention that the Delhi government is trying to tamper with the NFSA.

“Will there be two schemes on the same subject in the states, one run by the Centre and another by the state? Will there be double expenditure on the same subject in a state? This means in Delhi the Centre and state will spend Rs 2000 crore each for ration distribution? Will that be a rational arrangement?” Kejriwal wrote.

The Union Food and Public Distribution Ministry had said last week that the Delhi government was free to procure additional food grains for the proposed scheme under notified rates and launch it. Under the NFSA, highly subsidized foodgrains are allotted to the states for distribution through fair price shops popularly known as ration shops.

The Delhi CM went on to ask if the Centre’s contention that the Delhi government’s doorstep ration plan might disrupt the NFSA is appropriate or not as the ration available for PDS belongs “not to you, or me, the AAP or the BJP, but the people of this country.”

He also asserted that under the proposed doorstep plan, people will not be charged extra as is “being claimed by the Centre through media”.

The Centre essentially questioned one of the components of the proposed scheme which involves the collection of “the cost of subsidised foodgrains and a specified amount as milling/conversion charges” from the beneficiaries.

The Delhi government has not yet made public the proposed charges. In his letter to the PM, Kejriwal has for the first time touched upon the issue.

Kejriwal requested Modi to allow the implementation of the scheme for the sake of “national interest” as it would “eliminate the ration mafia”.

“I have always backed you in all issues that involve the national interest. I have always maintained that politics has no role in cases of national interest. We will stand even with an opposition party that works for the national interest,” Kejriwal said, seeking Modi’s support.

Lt Governor Anil Baijal has returned the file on the launch of the scheme to Kejriwal for “reconsideration”, saying it would mandatorily require the prior approval of the Centre as per Section 12 (2) (h) of the NFSA. Baijal also cited a pending Delhi High Court hearing on a related case.

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