One nation one ration card makes food security portable: Centre to SC

The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that its flagship ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) scheme makes food security portable, and primarily aims to enable migratory National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries to access the Public Distribution System (PDS) from any ePoS enabled fair price shop (FPS) in the country through portability.

The Centre, in its written submission in suo motu case of problems and miseries of migrant workers, said: “The ONORC plan aims to empower all NFSA migrant beneficiaries to access their PDS/NFSA food grains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice anywhere in the country by using their same/existing ration card with biometric authentication. In short ONORC makes food security portable.”

The Centre submitted that, as part of the ongoing technology driven reforms under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) in the country, it had introduced the ONORC plan for the nationwide portability of the ration cards under NFSA. “It is submitted that, portability gives that choice, while at the same time enabling the family back home to draw the remainder of the eligible ration”, said the Centre.

The Centre claimed it has extended the scheme for food grains for all the beneficiaries, who are not covered under NFSA and to whom ration cards have been issued by the state governments under their own scheme at 5 kg per person per month.

The Centre said under phase III of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY-III), allocation of food grains has been made to all the states/UTs for free of cost, distribution to all the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Household (PHH) beneficiaries from central pool at 5 kg/person/month for two months, May and June 2021.

“The above said allocation under PMGKAY-III has been made to all States/UTs in addition to their respective normal TPDS allocation as per NFSA, 2013. This scheme covers about 80 crore beneficiaries. The distribution under PMGKAY III is already underway. Also, its further extension for five 5 months up to November, 2021..”, said the Centre.

The Centre said to tide over the difficulty of food security during the current crisis, the responsibility of identification and distribution to the beneficiaries lies with the states/UTs. “All the states/UTs have been advised through the communications dated May 20 and May 25, to avail their requirements of food grains through the mentioned schemes, to provide food grains to those who are not covered under the NFSA including migrants/stranded migrants, as per locally assessed requirements”, added the Centre.

After hearing detailed arguments from the Centre and state governments, the top court has reserved its judgment in the matter.