- Intro – define the key objective of ONORC scheme.
- Briefly mention the perceived gains from implementing this scheme.
- Chart out the practical challenges faced.
The One Nation One Ration Card scheme is being proposed to facilitate portability of ration cards under the National Food Security Act. Through this, all eligible beneficiaries can take their entitlements from anywhere in the country.
As of now, 35 States & UTs have implemented the scheme.
Benefits : for the migrant labourers, it is difficult to obtain a ration card in the state of residence even if they hold one in their native states. The same problem is faced by employees in the organised sector. Thus, it is particularly helpful to migrant beneficiaries, who can claim either full or part of their food-grains from any fair price shop by using the existing ration card with biometric authentication in a seamless manner; while allowing their family members back home to claim the remaining food-grains on the same ration card. This is facilitated by IT-driven ePOS devices at the fair price shops. Cross verification across states will eliminate bogus cards & thereby, reduce the subsidy burden of the government and tide corruption.
Challenges: many practical difficulties have surfaced during implementation of the scheme.
- Product, quantity & cost difference: Due to varying consumption habits, the items supplied through PDS to the BPL card-holders varies too. Even the quantity & price of items varies across states. For e.g., Maharashtra gives only wheat while Andhra Pradesh provides only rice. It is observed that in Tamil Nadu, BPL family gets 20 Kg rice, while Karnataka gives 5 Kg rice. Tamil Nadu gives rice free of cost, while Uttar Pradesh & Bihar provides it at Rs. 3 per kg. Few states like Himachal Pradesh & Chhattisgarh also give pulses.
Thus, there is no clarity on the items received by migrant beneficiaries, suiting their food habits. A beneficiary from Andhra Pradesh, who has moved to Maharashtra, may not like only wheat; similarly, if one migrates from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, he may not be able to get ragi / jowar.
- Price variation for the same item across states involves subsidy burden to the concerned state. Additionally, a migrant beneficiary has to pay Rs. 3 / kg of rice in Uttar Pradesh, which he used to get for free in his native state Tamil Nadu – leading to out-of-pocket expenditure for the same food item.
- Since the exact data on migration is not available or is difficult to collate, it may lead to exclusion of some eligible beneficiaries.
- Sometimes, technical glitches in the POS machines can cause disruption in food-grains distribution.
Elaborate logistics will need to be worked out if the migrant population is to be assured of regular supply of the same items provided in their native states. This calls for improved infrastructure along the supply-chain. Most states are in favour of ONORC. The union government has assured financial assistance to all states willing to implement the scheme. Also, a price parity across states needs to be worked out. The success of the scheme will greatly depend on the convergence of all implementing agencies.