Tamil Nadu Minister R Kamaraj assured that the existing PDS in the state will not be disrupted by joining the central scheme.

One nation one ration card TN asks Centre to pay for concessions to migrants
news One Nation, One Ration Thursday, September 05, 2019 - 19:34

A week after Tamil Nadu Cooperation Minister Sellur K Raju announced that the government will implement the ‘one nation, one ration card’ scheme in the state soon. Food Minister R Kamaraj, stated that the Centre must offer assistance to the state to provide concessions to migrant card holders.

Addressing a press conference, the Food Minister said, "Migrant workers employed in the state must not starve and hence the central government has to provide assistance to feed them. What the Centre gives, we will provide to these migrant workers."

Alleviating apprehensions among the existing cardholders, the minister also assured that the existing Public Distribution System in Tamil Nadu will not be disrupted by joining the central scheme.

"In our PDS system we are giving rice and wheat. Pulses and oil are given at a subsidised rate. For Rs 13.50 and Rs 35 we offer sugar to Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) card holders and ration card holder respectively. In addition to this, we also have the free rice scheme introduced by late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. This is our state scheme and does not apply to other states," he added.

The ‘one nation, one ration card’ proposed by the Modi government is an inter-state ration card portability scheme that allows migrants to get their quota of ration from any public distribution system (PDS) across the country. The Centre plans to extend this scheme to all states by 2020. Currently, Tamil Nadu provides 20 kg of free rice per month to nearly 1.99 crore ration card holders. The free rice scheme, which has been in place since 2011, is over and above what the National Food Security Act stipulates.

Kamaraj had stated the same demands from the Central government during a conference of state Food Ministers in Delhi on Tuesday.

Adding to this Cooperation Minister Sellur K Raju said, “As per the information we received, if a migrant person (from another state) comes to our state and wants to buy the commodities, then based on the law in that state (migrant’s state), they can buy those items here, as per the arrangement in their state."

Taking the example of a migrant from Odisha, the concessions given by the PDS system in Odisha will only apply in Tamil Nadu, and won’t be eligible for the free rice scheme.

PDS is government-setup shops across the country, which distributes grains and other food and non-food commodities at a subsidised rate, and the ration shop is the endpoint where beneficiaries can buy these items.

The Cooperation Minister also added that Tamil Nadu is the only state to even offer pulses and oil under its food subsidy. 

“So when people of Tamil Nadu go to other states, they can pay for these items according to the rates under the PDS here. People from other states who are buying ration items in Tamil Nadu have to pay the amount in force in their state of origin,” he added.

Several opposition leaders in Tamil Nadu have criticised the TN government for joining the central government scheme.

DMK President MK Stalin even called it 'unconstitutional' and 'an attempt to uproot the tenets of federalism'. Stalin also added that Modi's move for 'one nation, one ration card' came at a time when 'one nation, one election' received criticism from people.

MDMK leader Vaiko also urged the Tamil Nadu government to not 'succumb to the pressure of the central government and join the scheme' as he believed it would affect the existing PDS system in the state.

Currently, inter-state portability of ration cards have been introduced between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Maharashtra and Gujarat is another existing pair which is trying out portability of ration cards. 

From October, two pairs of neighbouring states i.e Kerala and Karnataka and Rajasthan and Haryana will also experiment with inter-state ration card portability. 

Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said that the experimental clusters were to lay out a road map to extend the one nation, one ration card scheme to all states. These four pairs of states will join a cluster along with Tripura, Jharkhand and Punjab by January 2020, according to reports.

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