Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced a separate state-funded scheme to provide subsidised ration to 9 lakh beneficiaries not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
With this, the total number of subsidised ration beneficiaries in Punjab will go up to 1.50 crore, said the CM.
Capt Amarinder was rolling out the Smart Ration Card Scheme under which 37.5 lakh cards will be distributed to eligible beneficiaries this month. He said the Centre had capped the number of beneficiaries to 1.41 crore and despite his government’s repeated requests had not agreed to provide subsidised rations to the deserving 9 lakh people not covered under the NFSA. His government thus decided to cover all such left-out eligible persons under a state-funded scheme details of which will be announced shortly, the CM said.
Launching the Smart Ration Card scheme virtually in Punjab with connections established online to 100 places across the state, Capt Amarinder said the scheme would help curb corruption and give freedom to beneficiaries to buy from any depot.
Describing it as a major step towards empowering beneficiaries, he said it will end their exploitation by unscrupulous ration depot holders. The smart ration card would empower beneficiaries to get their entitled quotas of foodgrains from any ration depot in Punjab, he said.
The CM lashed out at the BJP-led central government for allegedly attempting to destroy the spirit of Punjab’s farmers, who have toiled for the country and fed the nation, through the farm Ordinances. These Ordinances were aimed at ending the MSP regime and will hit the farmers hard, he said. Referring to the Satluj Yamuna Link canal issue, Capt Amarinder said it was another problem that Punjab was facing and while he had recently had a meeting with the Union water resources minister and his Haryana counterpart, the problem continues to haunt the state.
Pointing to the melting glaciers and the receding ground water level in the state, he said the situation was critical and the state simply could not afford to give any water to other states.
In a symbolic gesture, the CM handed over smart ration cards to four beneficiaries at the Secretariat here following which all ministers and MLAs distributed such cards among beneficiaries in their respective districts and constituencies. Earlier, Punjab minister of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs Bharat Bhushan Ashu said the Amarinder-led Congress government had also “weeded out” ghost beneficiaries and undeserving people who were being allegedly provided subsidies by the erstwhile SADBJP regime at the cost of genuine beneficiaries.