Ensure that no migrant worker goes hungry, SC instructs govt.

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The court sets 31st July 2021 deadline, to implement One Nation One card .

What are the Court Observation:

  • A government cannot “abdicate” its duties to feed migrant workers, especially during an epidemic , merely because they didn't have ration cards.
  • The estimated 38 crore migrant workers, who form one-fourth of the country’s population, too have made “considerable contributions” to the country’s growth and economic development.
  • The States/Union Territories need to make extra efforts to reach migrant labourers so no migrant labourer is denied two meals each day .
  • Right to food, one among the “bare necessities of life”, was an intrinsic a part of the proper to live with dignity.

Court has given some of the Direction:

  • The Centre has got to supply whatever additional quantity of food grains a State demands.  
  • The allocation of additional food grains and running of community kitchens in prominent places to feed workers should continue throughout the pandemic, the court directed.
  • All the States to completely implement the One Nation One card (ONORC) scheme by July 31.  
  • The scheme allows migrant labourers covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to access food at any fair price shop together with his or her card in any a part of the country.
  • The court slammed the Labour Ministry for its “unpardonable apathy” in not completing the work of the ₹45.39 crore National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW) portal to register and identify migrant workers and unorganised labourers to make sure their rights, welfare and food security.
  • The court had ordered the Ministry to finalise the NDUW module way back in 2018.  
  • The Centre has blamed the delay in implementation on “software” problems.
  • Under the scheme, an estimated 69 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act can purchase subsidised foodgrains from any of the fair price shops across the country, not necessarily where the ration card is registered.

What is One Nation, One ration card (ONORC) system?

  • The ONORC scheme is aimed toward enabling migrant workers and their members of the family to buy subsidised ration from any fair price shop anywhere in the country under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
  • For instance, a migrant worker from, say, Basti district of Uttar Pradesh are going to be able to access PDS benefits in Mumbai, where he or she may have gone in search of work.  
  • While the person can purchase food grains as per his or her entitlement under the NFSA at the place where he or she is based, members of his or her family can still attend their ration dealer back home.
  • To promote this reform within the archaic Public Distribution System (PDS), the govt has provided incentives to states.  
  • The Centre had even set the implementation of ONORC as a precondition for extra borrowing by states during the Covid-19 pandemic last year.  
  • At least 17 states, which implemented the ONORC reform, were allowed to borrow a further Rs 37,600 crores in 2020-21.

How does it work?

  • ONORC is based on technology that involves details of beneficiaries’ ration card, Aadhaar number, and electronic Points of Sale (ePoS).  
  • The system identifies a beneficiary through biometric identification on ePoS devices at fair price shops.  
  • The system runs with the support of two portals:
  • Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) (impds.nic.in) and  
  • Annavitran (annavitran.nic.in), which host all the relevant data.
  • When a card holder goes to a fair price shop, he or she identifies himself or herself through biometric authentication on ePoS, which is matched real time with details on the Annavitaran portal.  
  • Once the card details are verified, the dealer hands out the beneficiary’s entitlements.  
  • While the Annavitaran portal maintains a record of intra-state transactions (inter-district and intra-district) the IM-PDS portal records the inter-state transactions.

How many people will it benefit?

  • Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, about 81 crore people are entitled to buy subsidised foodgrains — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Re 1/kg – from designated fair price shops.
  • As on 28 June 2021, there are about 5.46 lakh fair price shops and 23.63 crore card holders across the country.  
  • Each NFSA ration card holder is assigned to a fair price shop near the place where his ration card is registered.
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What is the Rationale behind ONORC launch:

  • Earlier, NFSA beneficiaries weren't able to access their PDS benefits outside the jurisdiction of the precise fair price shop to which they need been assigned.  
  • The government envisioned the ONORC to offer them access to benefits from any fair price shop.  
  • Full coverage are going to be possible after 100% Aadhaar seeding of ration cards has been achieved, and all fair price shops are covered by ePoS devices (there are currently 4.74 lakh devices installed across the country).
  • ONORC was launched in August, 2019.  
  • Work on ration card portability, however, had begun in April 2018 itself, with the launch of the IM-PDS.  
  • The idea was to reform the PDS, which has been historically marred by inefficiency and leakages.
  • ONORC was initially launched as an inter-state pilot.  
  • However, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced thousands of migrant workers to return to their villages last year, a requirement was felt to expedite the rollout.
  • As a part of its Covid economic relief package, the govt announced the national rollout of ONORC altogether states and Union Territories by March 2021.

What is the Coverage ratio so far:

  • Till date, 32 states and Union Territories have joined the ONORC, covering about 69 crore NFSA beneficiaries.  
  • Four states are yet to join the scheme — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal .
  • According to the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, about 1.35 crore portability transactions monthly are being recorded under ONORC on an average.
  • A total of quite 27.83 Crore portability transactions (including intra-state transactions) have taken place all across these States/UTs since the inception of ONORC in August 2019, out of which just about 19.8 Crore portability transactions are recorded during the COVID-19 period of April 2020 to May 2021 itself.  
  • While inter-state ration card portability is obtainable in 32 states, the amount of such transactions is far lower than that of intra-district and inter-district transactions.

Reason behind the four states who didn't implemented it:

  • Delhi is yet to start out the utilization of ePoS in fair price shops, which may be a prerequisite for the implementation of ONORC.  
  • In the case of West Bengal , the government has demanded that the non-NFSA ration card holders (ration cards issued by the state government) should even be covered under the ONORC.

 

SOURCE: THE HINDU 

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