The Supreme Court of India today ordered the West Bengal govt to implement the One Nation One Ration Card scheme immediately. The apex court said that the state govt will have to implement the scheme without giving any excuse, and said they can’t cite one or other problem for not implementing the same.
The court passed the ruling during the hearing of a suo moto case on the problems faced by migrant labours during the lockdown. “You can not cite one or the other problem. This is for migrant workers,” the court said, warning the Mamata Banerjee govt that the state can’t delay implementing the scheme any longer.
Only three states have not implemented the One Nation One Ration Card scheme, Assam, Delhi and West Bengal. This scheme by the central govt enables people to access items distributed under the Public Distribution System using a single ration card. It has not been implemented in Assam because it is linked to Aadhaar for authentication, and the Aadhaar registration had started in Assam only after the NRC was the updated, and a larger number of people still don’t have Aadhaar. However, Delhi and West Bengal have not implemented it giving various excuses.
During the hearing, the counsel for West Bengal said that they have not implemented the scheme due to Aadhaar seeding problem. However, the court rejected that claim, and said that they have to implement it as other states have already implemented it. To this the counsel replied that they are in the process of implementing the same.
The matter came up during the hearing on the plight of migrant workers as the court observed that many people without ration cards were not getting subsidised foodgrains in the states where they are residing for work, and they are also not aware of schemes available for them.
The Supreme Court also asked the centre to complete the database of unorganised workers in the country soon. When the court asked why it has not been completed yet, the centre said that it will be a comprehensive portal with inbuilt monitoring, supervision etc, and developing the software is taking time. The Additional Solicitor General said that the NIC has taken over the task, and it will be done in 3-4 months.
The court kept the order on the main issues reserved, which are problems faced by migrant workers during the lockdown and the registration of unorganised workers.
The Supreme Court order came on the same day when Union Minister Ravi Sankar Prasad slammed the Arvind Kejriwal govt in Delhi for not implementing the One Nation One Ration Card scheme. He said that due to this, migrant workers living in Delhi have been unable to be benefited from the schemes formulated to help them.