Gangtok: Amid the controversy surrounding the implementation of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) in Sikkim, chief minister PS Golay-led Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) on Tuesday said that the scheme will aid migrant workers as well as the poor population of the state.
Ever since ONORC was launched in the state on July 28, opposition leaders have been sharply reacting to the scheme saying that it will violate Article 371F of the Indian Constitution and open migrant settlements in the state.
Article 371F of the Constitution of India provides special status to the Himalayan state of Sikkim.
Addressing the media at a press conference on Tuesday, SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling said that One Nation One Ration Card will in fact curb influx of illegal immigrants as no new ration will need to be made for every state now.
“Previously, when a migrant worker had to apply for a ration card in Sikkim, he had to produce a surrender certificate from his home state. But now, the surrender certificate has been removed, which also means a migrant worker need not produce a new ration card to avail the benefits of ration,” Khaling said.
Now, with the ePOS device, they may be from any part of the country, but their share of ration will come to the state they are residing, explained Khaling.
“It will be added to the resident state while being cut from their home state with the validity of his ration card at home still intact. There is no need for a new ration card. This initiative must not only be looked from an angle of migrant workers coming to Sikkim but also for our Sikkimese people working in other states, who struggled during the pandemic-induced lockdown to avail ration,” Khaling added.
SKM also countered the allegations levelled by the opposition Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) which said that the state government has not sent an affidavit on One Nation One Ration Card to the Centre and claimed that the National Food Security Act was implemented during SDF regime in January 2016.
“In terms of ration card, we have the data for 91,700 beneficiaries with a count of 30,826 migrant workers. As many as 11,099 of them were aided with transport in their exodus during the pandemic-induced lockdown. We had submitted the same data in the affidavit to Supreme Court of India on the number of migrant workers affected in Sikkim,” said Khaling.
“SDF twisted the affidavit logic to make it sound like it was for One Nation One Ration Card. The affidavit was submitted by every other state several times in 2020 and 2021, just like us, to a writ petition and suo moto case in Supreme Court on the migrant issues,” he added.
On SDF’s claims of One Nation One Ration Card changing the demography of Sikkim, the SKM spokesperson said, “If we want to see how the demography of Sikkim has changed, then look how it was in 1993 and how it was left in 2019. Our fields are being run by people who don’t speak our language, houses and dams on the banks of river Teesta. It is an emotional issue where we lost our lands. The maps from 1993 and 2019 will show how the demography of Sikkim has changed.”
The ONORC scheme is aimed at enabling migrant workers and their family members to buy subsidised ration from any fair price shop anywhere in India under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The flagship programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is aimed at the wellbeing of BPL families and migrant workers using their existing Ration Card with Aadhaar authentication on the electronic point of sale (e-POS) devices available in all fair price shops (FPS).
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had directed all states and Union territories to implement the One Nation One Ration Card system, which allows for inter- and intra-state portability, by July 31.
On July 28, Sikkim chief minister PS Golay launched the scheme along with fair price shops (FPS) automation through e-PoS devices at Samman Bhawan in state capital Gangtok.
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