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10 states want distribution of free foodgrains to be extended

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Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said that around 10 states have written to the ministry to extend the distribution of free foodgrains under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) for three more months.

Paswan on Thursday reviewed the progress of the implementation of National Portability of NFSA ration card holders through “One Nation One Ration Card” programme in a meeting via video conference.

The meeting was to understand the readiness, action plans and a tentative timeline to implement the “One Nation One Ration Card” facility in 14 States/UTs.

Food Ministers of five States/UTs of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Meghalaya and Tamil Nadu attended the meeting, whereas other States/UTs were represented by respective Food Secretaries, the ministry said in a statement.

Paswan said that in the time of Covid-19 pandemic, the scheme proved immensely beneficial for migrant labourers, stranded and needy persons to access their quota of food grains through ONOC portability.

He said by August 2020 three more States namely – Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Manipur will be added to the national cluster and Department is making all necessary arrangements to include remaining all 14 States under ONOC by end of this year.

During the course of discussion, most of the remaining states/UTs shared their action plans and strategy to complete this activity by the end of September 2020, whereas three States – Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and West Bengal have indicated a tentative timeline for complete implementation before December 2020, said the statement.

In the review meeting, States/UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Island, Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep and Meghalaya also highlighted the challenges related to slow internet or limited network connectivity.

Minister assured that network connectivity related challenges would be taken up with Department of Telecommunications for appropriate solution and smooth implementation of ”One Nation One Ration Card” across the country.

Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve also stressed on implementing the ONOC scheme as early as possible in the remaining states/UTs. He said it is only because of ONOC scheme many migrant labourers are able to draw their food grains quota during the difficult time of Covid-19 pandemic.

Paswan asked the remaining States/UTs to speed up the authentication of biometric and ePoS, so that the beneficiaries can conveniently lift their entitled quota of subsidised food grains from anywhere across the country.

–IANS