Punjab government’s doorstep ration delivery scheme

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann announced the home delivery of foodgrains to beneficiaries. Under the Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna, the state government would deliver wheat, packed in bags, to the doorstep of the beneficiaries.

What is doorstep ration delivery scheme?

Under the new Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna the beneficiaries of the Atta-Dal Scheme of the state government, which is a tweaked version of the Centre’s Food Security Act, will get rations at their doorsteps. The scheme will be optional and all those who do not want to queue up outside the fair price shops or the ration depots can opt for it.

How many beneficiaries are there of the Atta-Dal Scheme?

There are 1.54 crore individual beneficiaries (in 43 lakh families) of the Atta-Dal scheme in Punjab. The government gives 5 kg wheat to every individual beneficiary per month at Rs 2 per kg. While the scheme is named after wheat flour and pulses, the state has not been able to give pulses (ground black grams preferred in Punjab over lentils), due to a lack of funds. Various political parties have also been promising tea leaves and sugar, but it could never materialize due to a lack of funds.

Who funds the scheme?

The Centre funds the scheme under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013 for 1.43 lakh beneficiaries (comprising 36 lakh families). These are the Centre’s identified BPL families. Punjab has added its own list of beneficiaries by giving them Blue Cards. These beneficiaries’ annual income is below Rs 30,000 per annum, which is more than the limit set by the Centre for the BPL category. Punjab argues that the living standard of Punjabis is better than the rest of the country. Now, the Centre pays for the subsidy bill of 36 lakh families worth Rs 1700 crore every year. It also pays half of the transportation charge. The bill for the remaining 7 lakh families is borne by the state government.

How is it distributed?

The state earlier used to supply wheat flour to the beneficiaries. However, following complaints of flour turning bad or being found infested, a decision was taken to give wheat instead. Now, wheat is provided by the ration depots in cities and villages once in three months.

How many ration depots handle the operation?

There are 26,000 ration depots in the state. They use Electronic Point of Sale (e-POS) machines for biometric verification of every beneficiary. The quarterly delivery takes about a month as about 16 depots use a single EPOS machine that delays the process of delivery. Every depot has about 300 registered beneficiaries. The machine is transported to different depots. This also results in queues.