Punjab CM rolls out state-wide smart ration card scheme to cover 1.41 crore beneficiaries – chandigarh
Even as he launched the smart ration card scheme to cover 1.41 crore beneficiaries across the state, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced a separate state-funded scheme to provide subsidised ration to nine lakh beneficiaries not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
With this, the total number of beneficiaries in the state will go up to 1.5 crore, the chief minister announced, while rolling out the smart card scheme under which 37.5 lakh cards will be distributed to the beneficiaries this month.
Captain Amarinder Singh said the Centre had capped the maximum number of beneficiaries to 1.41 crore and, despite repeated requests, had not agreed to provide subsidised ration to nine lakh people not covered under NFSA. His government had, therefore, decided to cover all such left out eligible persons under a state-funded scheme, details of which will be announced shortly, he said.
Launching the smart ration card scheme virtually, with connection to 100 places across the state, the chief minister said the scheme would help curb corruption and give freedom to the beneficiaries to buy ration from any depot. Describing it as a major step towards empowering the beneficiary, he said it will end the exploitation by unscrupulous ration depot holders. The smart ration card empowers the beneficiary to get his entitled quota of foodgrains from any ration depot in Punjab.
FARM ORDINANCES WILL HIT FARMERS: CAPT
The chief minister lashed out at the BJP-led central government for 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 are aimed at ending the MSP regime and will hit the farmers hard, he said.
Referring to the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal issue, Captain Amarinder said that was another problem that Punjab was facing and while he had recently had one 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 groundwater level in the state, he said the situation was critical and Punjab could not afford to give any water to other states.
In a symbolic gesture, the chief minister handed over the smart ration cards to four beneficiaries at the Secretariat in Chandigarh, after which ministers and MLAs distributed cards in their respective districts and constituencies.
TRANSPARENT SYSTEM TO CHECK PILFERAGE: ASHU
Earlier, Punjab minister of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that the state government, in line with its promise to make the system transparent, had introduced the e-POS system to check pilferage.
State finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal termed the launch of the cards as the fulfilment of another promise despite the financial crunch.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said the journey to implement a transparent system of public food distribution had been an arduous one, as the previous government had put in place a corrupt and monopolistic system. Due to the step-motherly treatment of the Centre towards Punjab, the Rs 31000 crore CCL debt burden imposed by the SAD-BJP on the state was yet to be resolved, he said.