One nation one ration card: Odisha to soon start dry ration scheme for migrant workers

The apex court had directed all states and Union territories June 29 to formulate an appropriate scheme to provide dry ration to migrant workers till COVID-19 pandemic lasts

By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Monday 13 September 2021

The Odisha government has started a scheme, in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court, to supply dry ration to migrant workers. 

The Apex court had directed all states and Union territories (UT) on June 29, 2021 to formulate an appropriate scheme to provide dry ration to migrant workers till the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic lasts.

It had asked states to implement it on or before July 31.

The new scheme, Supply of Dry Ration to Migrant Labourers / Workers, will remain in force till the COVID-19 pandemic subsides or till further orders. It will also be extended to migrant workers who do not have ration cards under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

In a letter dated August 28, MQ Haque, additional secretary, Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs department, Odisha, had asked district collectors to implement the scheme.

Haque’s direction to collectors came in the wake of another letter written 10 days earlier (on August 18) to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. It was sent by Delhi-based lawyer Prashan Bhushan, who had appeared in the case in the Supreme Court on the behalf of a few activists.

Haque responded to Bhushan August 31 in reference to the senior advocates’s communication to the CM: “The said scheme has been uploaded in the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department transparency portal under the link, New Scheme for Supply of Dry Ration to Migrant Labourers / Workers, for citizens’ views and awareness (sic).”

Dry ration under the scheme will continue to be supplied to migrant workers covered under the NFSA through ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ programme by intra-state and inter-state / UT operations. Similarly, those covered under the State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) will continue to get their ration and can avail the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ facility within the state.

Haque stated in his letter to collectors that migrant workers — who did not possess ration cards — should be supplied dry ration following their registration at Gram Panchayats in rural areas and local bodies in urban areas.

“Authorities registering migrant labourers / workers shall not insist on production of identity proof for those who do not possess any proofs for the time being. Such migrant labourers / workers will be registered on self-declaration given by them,” Haque said.

Each migrant worker, according to his letter, should be issued five kilograms of rice free of cost. The family members of migrant workers beyond the age of six months should also eligible for five kg rice per person free of cost, it added.      

“We have circulated the letter among our volunteers at the district level and asked them to spread awareness about the scheme,” said Sameet Panda, who works on food security issues.  

The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of a writ petition in May 2020 regarding problems faced by migrant labourers who had to walk thousands of kilometres to reach their native places in during the lockdown. The court sought affidavits in this regard from the central and state governments as well as UT.

On June 29, the apex court directed all states and UTs to implement the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme.

“We direct all states to bring in place an appropriate scheme for distribution of dry ration to migrant labourers, for which it shall be open for states to ask for allocation of additional foodgrains from the central government, which, as directed above, shall provide the additional foodgrains to the states (sic),” the Supreme Court bench comprising Judge Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah had said. 

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