Only 31% of free grain for migrants distributed till now

Free grain under the government’s Atmanirbhar scheme for migrant labourers has reached only 31% of the intended beneficiaries, as several state governments have failed to comply, the Centre has told the parliamentary standing committee on labour.

PTI
New Delhi: Free grain under the government’s Atmanirbhar scheme for migrant labourers has reached only 31% of the intended beneficiaries, as several state governments have failed to comply, the Centre has told the parliamentary standing committee on labour. At a meeting of the panel on Monday, the Centre said 800,000 metric tonnes of grain had been earmarked for distribution to migrants regardless of whether they have a ration card. Of this, 638,000 metric tonnes of grain (about 80%) were lifted by the Centre to be given to states, which would distribute it among the intended beneficiaries. However, till August 5, 2020, only 246,000 tonnes were distributed by the states to 2.51cr people. This is just 30.75% of the total grain for this scheme and 38.55% of the grains made available to the states.

This scheme, which was announced by the Centre in the wake of large scale reverse migration due to the Covid pandemic, will continue till September 30, 2020 and may be extended by the Centre if it deems fit. The onus of distributing the grain lies with the state governments. Sources said that at the end of the scheme, the grain lying with the states will be adjusted to their quota.

Officials of the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution shared these details with the parliamentary committee during a presentation on social security and welfare measures for migrants and workers in the unorganised and informal sectors.


The issue of migrants not getting grain from fair price shops through the ePoS system was also taken up at the meeting. The officials reportedly informed the committee that the ePoS system in fair price shops does not work in remote areas due to connectivity issues and, hence, ration card holders have not been able to avail of it in some parts of some states, including Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

The Centre had launched the one nation-one ration card scheme on June 1, 2020 and 24 states and union territories were covered under it till August 1, 2020. The plan is to cover the whole country by March 31, 2021. However, the migrant workforce has not been able to utilise this scheme in most places. The officials informed the panel that till July 2020, only 2,000 interstate transactions benefitting around 13,000 migrants had taken place through ePoS. They bought only 31,500 kg of grain from fair price shops.

States including Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Assam have informed the Centre that the ePoS system does not work in remote areas. The migrants living in urban areas have also not benefitted in several places as many did not carry their ration card or have not updated to the new system which allows members of the same family to avail of cheap grain in different cities.
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Officials of the housing and urban affairs ministry also briefed the parliamentary panel on the availability of vacant affordable houses for workers. The panel was informed that there are 108,000 vacant houses in 159 cities across the country which can be given on rent for up to 25 years to workers. The Centre has allocated `1,880 crore for their maintenance.
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