The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Meghalaya has demanded the state government to issue ration cards to all the poor families in the state.
In a letter to the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, BJP state president Ernest Mawrie said, “I request you to take urgent steps to ensure that all eligible people of Meghalaya are issued ration cards at the earliest.”
“In the interim period, during which this entire exercise should be completed, I request you to make provisions for including all poor families of the state (including those not yet covered under NFSA) as beneficiaries of the scheme,” he said.
According to him, the government of India is providing free ration to the needy people under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under this scheme, the government provides free ration to all poor people both under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and non-NFSA. The PMGKAY was extended for a period of five months from July to November this year.
Stating that the arrangement is expected to benefit the poor families of the state, Mawrie however said, “It is appalling to see that the poorest of the poor people in Meghalaya are being denied the benefits of this scheme (as) the standard argument being forwarded is that the government of India has extended the scheme only for people covered under NFSA. In fact, messages are being circulated to the people of the state with the malicious intent of passing the blame to the government of India for the inefficiencies of the state government.”
“We cannot hide the fact that the issuing of ration cards under NFSA is the responsibility of the state government. I believe that we as a responsible and a morally empathetic government, and you as a responsible legislator should own up to the short-comings of the administration in providing NFSA cover to the poor in the state,” he added.
The BJP leader further stated that the failures of the previous Congress government led by Mukul Sangma in providing ration cards to all the poor and needy people of the state cannot be an ‘excuse’ for the present government for denying these people the benefits that the Centre has envisaged for them.
He said the anomaly suggested has arisen due to the fact that the state government had adopted the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), which was carried out in 2011-12, for identifying beneficiaries under NFSA in 2013-14.
Reminding that the then government of India had given liberty to the state governments to adopt a mechanism for drawing up a list of beneficiaries for implementing NFSA, Mawrie alleged that the then Meghalaya government chose the easier route of using the old data.
In fact, the data under SECC was further filtered by the department of Food and Civil Supplies which resulted in the exclusion of many and deserving poor families.
Moreover, applications were invited from the general public for further inclusion into the NFSA. However, no decision has been taken by the state government on such applications received,” he said.
“I implore that it would be appropriate if this exercise is taken up so that the additional figures can be appraised to the government of India, for additional allotment of essential items,” the BJP state president stated.