Maharashtra govt to start free ration supply from April 15

Not all poor entitled; police help supply ration in Worli's containment zone




Ration card holders in Maharashtra will start getting additional free ration supplies from April 15.

While Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had last week announced an additional 5 kg per person ration for the urban poor as part of the Centre’s revival package to combat COVID-19 pandemic, the state government had decided not to distribute it alongwith the permitted monthly quota under the public distribution system citing logistical constraints.

Kailash Pagare, Controller of Rationing and Director of Civil Supplies for Mumbai and Thane district, said ration shops have been instructed to distribute the monthly ration quota before April 15. “We plan to allow supply of the additional free stock from April 15,” he added.

The Centre has permitted states to lift the free ration quota by April 31.

Under the National Food Security Act, beneficiary families get 3 kg of wheat per person, 2 kg rice per person, and 1 kg course grain for Rs 3, Rs 2, and Re 1, respectively, while Antodaya card holders are provided 35 kg of foodgrains. Sitharaman had announced an additional 5 kg rice or wheat to the beneficiaries free amid the shutdown. As per the arrangement between states, Maharashtra was allotted 5 kg rice supplies under the free scheme.

The free supplies won’t, however, cover all the poor in Mumbai. About 8.25 lakh saffron ration card holders, or 33 lakh individuals, whose annual family income is below Rs 1 lakh, won’t get the benefit.

As per the Centre’s decision, the free supplies are meant for those covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which covers for only those families whose annual income is Rs 59,000 or less.

In Mumbai and neighbouring Thane district, 18.78 lakh out of the 27.03 lakh saffron card holders are covered under NFSA. While the state has already assured free food supplies to the stranded migrant population and the homeless, the remaining 8.25 lakh saffron card holders, who were originally covered under the public distribution system, have been left out.

Pagare said that in the first couple of days of April, 2.78 lakh ration card holders have lifted ration, with 1.76 lakh availing the same on Thursday itself.

Meanwhile on Thursday, in a welcome gesture, the Mumbai Police stepped in to help supply ration to poor families residing inside the containment zone at Worli Koliwada, which was been sealed off on Wednesday after a person tested positive for COVID-19 in the locality. With five fair price shops situated inside the Worli containment zone, the rationing controller’s office had earlier approached the police to permit lifting of ration from these shops.

In Dharavi’s Shahunagar, where two persons have tested positive, families have been permitted to lift ration from shops outside the containment zone.

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