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Food security: Delhi High Court asks govt to look into 'concern' of marginalised sections

By Our Representative
Taking cognisance of a petition filed by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) to distribute food to marginalised sections in the national capital without ration cards, the Delhi High Court has directed the state government to file a status report regarding continuation of dry rations for such persons, expressing concern about the plight of the homeless and the condition in shelters.
In its petition, DRRAA said, the extent of requirement of ration by people not possessing a ration card can be gauged by the fact that the Delhi government received applications from 54 lakh people for the e-coupon scheme. These are people who do not have ration cards and are badly affected by the economic crisis as they are mostly daily wagers, slum dwellers, causal workers etc., it added.
The hearing took place for DRRAA’s plea before the Delhi High Court highlighting the discontinuation of all schemes of food security for those without ration cards. The matter was heard on December 7, 2020 by a bench comprising of Justices Hima Kohli and S Prasad. The bench asked the state government’s Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) to look into the concern and address them in a time-bound manner.
DRRAA, in its plea, said, due to the pandemic, people were experiencing economic distress and therefore, sought continuation of supply of dry rations to persons without ration cards, especially the vulnerable, poor and marginalised. The e-coupon scheme of the Delhi government under the Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayata Yojana launched in the beginning of the lockdown was initially to cover only 10 lakh people and was for one-time ration entitlement of 5 kg grain per person.
The plea said, pursuant to the orders of the Delhi High Court on April 27, 2020, the cap of 10 lakh was removed and the scheme was extended for another phase. However, ration was provided under this scheme only for two months for those who applied in the first phase. Since then while the scheme is still open, it only functions as a one time entitlement of 5 kg of grains per person.
Counsels for DRRAA highlighted inadequacy of one time entitlement of 5 kg in sustaining people during unprecedented economic crisis
In the hearing, the counsels for DRRAA highlighted the inadequacy of a one time entitlement of 5 kg in sustaining people in this time of unprecedented economic crisis. Further, the issue was raised that once the government had identified people in need of dry rations, it must not stop the provision of grains after just one month.
DRRAA said, while the Delhi government claim what it is “continuously providing ration to all those who have registered themselves on the Janta Samvad Ration Portal under Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayata Yojana” is contrary to the actual implementation wherein it is being implemented as a one time entitlement, i.e. once a person has got 5 kg ration under this scheme, they cannot apply again.
In Delhi only 37% of the population is covered under the Public Distribution System and has ration cards, and nearly 70% of the population lives in slum or slum-like conditions. Large number of poor and marginalised persons have been excluded from the ambit of the PDS due to difficulties faced in getting a ration card such as complex application procedures and insistence on furnishing of documents, DRRAA said.
DRRAA was represented by senior advocate Sanjay Parikh and Prasanna S. The next hearing is scheduled for January 7, 2020.

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