Free ration scheme ‘illegal’, says Ration depot holders in Punjab - Hindustan Times
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Free ration scheme ‘illegal’, says Ration depot holders in Punjab

By, Ludhiana
Feb 23, 2024 05:08 AM IST

The depot holders of Punjab stated that the state government cannot convert National Food Security Act wheat into flour and distribute it as the scheme of the Centre, which has 1.41 crore beneficiaries in Punjab

Terming the “Ghar Ghar Muft Ration” scheme launched by the Punjab government recently as “illegal”, the depot holders met Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit, expressing discontent over the scheme’s negative impact on their livelihoods.

The ration depot holders said the scheme is “illegal and will affect their livelihood negatively”. (HT File Photo/ for representation)
The ration depot holders said the scheme is “illegal and will affect their livelihood negatively”. (HT File Photo/ for representation)

The depot holders of Punjab stated that the state government cannot convert National Food Security Act (NFSA) wheat into flour and distribute it as the scheme of the Centre, which has 1.41 crore beneficiaries in Punjab.

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Punjab Raj Depot Holders unions said that around one year ago, when Punjab government had announced “atta scheme” to the beneficiaries from ration depot shops, they had challenged this and filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High court on September 28, 2022. In reply, the Punjab Government withdrew the scheme, but they launched the scheme on February 10.

The depot holders said that the scheme is “illegal and will affect their livelihood negatively”.

Gurjinder Singh Sidhu, president of the union, stated that the bags in which the flour is distributed “bears the name of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and photo of chief minister Bhagwant Mann, which directly reflects that they want to drive political mileage out of the scheme and are depriving the depot holders of their income.”

According to depot holders, the government’s scheme, aimed at facilitating ration distribution to 25 lakh people, has put 1.15 crore individuals, who relied on ration Depots, at stake.

The depot holders had earlier met Union minister Piyush Goyal on January 6.

Karamjit Singh Arechha, the national general secretary of All India Fair Price Prime Shop Dealers Federation, said that the Punjab government is processing wheat received from the Centre under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna’ to distribute flour among underprivileged individuals.

Inadequate biometric machines pose a challenge, with only 1,000 available for use against the number of depots. Additionally, the AAP government had opened 437 Markfed Fair Price shops in Punjab. The government plans to extend these to 750 Markfed fair shops, allocating a budget of 670 crore for the scheme’s implementation.

“The government has transferred nearly half of the ration cards to Markfed fair price shops and has also provided them with all the biometric machines. Consequently, we will be unable to distribute wheat until we receive the machines,” Singh said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Tarsem Singh Deogan is a senior reporter at Ludhiana. He has 16 years of experience in journalism. He has covered all beats and now focuses on crime reporting.

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