kriti nath jha
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NEW DELHI, 14 JULY
Just a day after UPA chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, asked Congress-ruled states to implement the food security scheme in ‘letter and spirit’, chief minister, Mrs Sheila Dikshit, today said that her government was ‘gearing up’ for its roll out in the city on 20 August, the birth anniversary of former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Delhi cabinet is likely to approve the proposed draft bill on Monday, but before that Mrs Dikshit will be meeting the union food minister.
The Delhi government intends to cover the poorest of the poor with the Centre&’s National Food Security Ordinance, which will be implemented in two phases in the Capital. Those eligible are likely to get food grain at notified rates from 1 September. In the first phase, all ration card-holders will be covered while the second phase will be taken up from February next year.
Considering the potential of the populist scheme in the upcoming assembly elections in the city slated for November, Mrs Dikshit last week had announced that Delhi will be the first state in the country to launch the scheme, dubbed by the Congress as ‘game changer’ in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
"Our government is gearing up to launch the Food Security Scheme on August 20. We are working hard to ensure successful implementation of the scheme to ensure a hunger-free Delhi," said Mrs Dikshit while addressing a workshop of Resident Welfare Associations at Yamuna Sports Complex today in East Delhi.
The chief minister said that 5.10 lakh families in the city will be provided food grains under the scheme in the first phase and the entitled food grain will be given to the beneficiary families through their senior most female members with an aim to empower the fairer sex.
"We will provide food grains to 5.10 lakh families in the first phase which will mean coverage of around 32 lakh people under the scheme. The scheme would go a long way in overcoming malnutrition and poverty.
"We will give the entitlement to senior most female member of the beneficiary families in order to further empower women in the Capital," said the chief minister.
Mrs Dikshit has already ordered all concerned agencies and departments to complete the ground work for roll out of the scheme and appointed a committee under chairmanship of Food and Supply Minister, Harun Yusuf to oversee the preparations.  The city government would side-by-side include more families under the ambit of Food Security.
She added that the government would distribute Food Security Cards at a formal launch function which would help in realising food security guarantee at large.
In the first phase, all the BPL families, Above Poverty Line (APL) card holders and Jhughi Ration Card (JRC) holders and beneficiaries under Antodaya Anna Yojna will be included.
The APL families with stamped ration cards will continue getting ration according to existing norms and rates, as per Ordinance proviso, till review of their ration cards in phase II. An official said, “Ration cards will be printed afresh in a phased manner. The eldest female will be made head of household, as prescribed in the Ordinance. The card will be titled National Food Security Card.”
The city government has also decided to include homeless people, daily wage earners, rag pickers, people living in resettlement colonies and slum clusters in the first phase implementation of the scheme.  No income tax payers, vehicle and house owners will be included under the scheme in the first phase, officials said adding that the second and final phase of implementation of the scheme will be launched in February next year.  They said the beneficiaries of Annashree Yojna, who are getting a monthly cash subsidy of Rs 600, are likely to be kept out in the first phase. Under the scheme, the eligible people will have the right to get 5 kg of foodgrains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg. Per kg of rice will be supplied at Rs 3 while wheat and wheat and coarse cereals will be given at Rs 2 and Rs 1 per kg respectively under the programme.
However, poorest of the poor families covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme under PDS would continue to get 35 kg of grains per family per month but with legal entitlement.
 Realising food security guarantee at large, the government had been working in the direction of making Delhi hunger-free through its Jan Aahar and Aap Ki Rasoi Centres.
The draft note, which was reviewed by a committee consisting of food and civil supplies minister Haroon Yusuf, MPs Mahabal Mishra and Sandeep Dikshit and MLAs  Mateen Ahmed, Subhash Chopra and Kunwar Karan Singh.  Earlier, Mrs Dikshit directed chief secretary, D M Spolia and the department of food and civil supplies to complete the groundwork for launching the scheme, sources said.  According to officials, there are about 17 lakh ration card holders — below poverty line, Antodaya and JRC — who are entitled to wheat, rice and sugar at subsidised rates under the public distribution system.
“The challenge is to ensure food security to such a large number of people. The government may even have to trim the list of beneficiaries in accordance with the scheme,” said a senior official.