NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Saturday claimed the Centre has "stalled" its ambitious doorstep delivery of ration scheme that would have benefitted 72 lakh ration card holders in the national capital and termed the move "politically motivated."
Sources privy to the development, however, claimed the lieutenant governor has not rejected the proposal as was being "portrayed" by the Delhi government.
"The file related to the notification of the scheme, proposed to be implemented through private vendors, has been returned for reconsideration to the chief minister by the LG," they said.
While asserting that it was prepared to launch the scheme in the next few days, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO), in a statement, claimed the lieutenant governor returned the file on June 2 stating the scheme cannot be implemented.
It said, "The LG has rejected the file for implementation of doorstep delivery of ration citing two reasons -- the Centre is yet to approve the scheme and an ongoing court case."
Delhi Food Minister Imran Hussain, however, claimed that according to law, no approval is required for launching such a scheme.
"More than six letters were sent to the Centre by the Delhi government since 2018 informing them of the scheme.
Citing of an ongoing court case, wherein no stay has been ordered, to stop the rollout of such a revolutionary scheme makes it clear that this decision is politically motivated," Hussain charged.
The Delhi government was all set to launch the doorstep delivery of ration scheme within one to two days, benefiting 72 lakh poor beneficiaries, said the CMO statement.
It claimed that after accepting all suggestions of the Centre, the Delhi government had sent the file for final approval and immediate rollout of the scheme to the LG on May 24 which was returned by him "rejecting" the scheme.
Earlier, the name of the scheme -- 'Mukhyamantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana' -- was dropped by the Delhi government on the objection raised by the Centre.
However, a source, while claiming that the LG has not rejected the proposal, said, "It has been advised again, like earlier on March 20, 2018, that since the proposal seeks to change the method of distribution, it would mandatorily require prior approval of Centre as per Section 12 (2) (h) of the National Food Security Act 2013."
Also, a petition has been filed by the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh in the High Court challenging the proposed arrangement of doorstep delivery of ration by the Delhi government.
The Centre is a party to the petition scheduled to be heard on August 20, the source said.
Under the scheme, every beneficiary was entitled to receive 4 kg of flour and one kg of rice cleaned and packed at their doorstep.
The Delhi government had completed the preparatory work for the implementation of the scheme.
Tenders had been awarded, a letter of intent had been released, and vendors had been appointed for doorstep delivery, according to the CMO statement.
"The Centre's obstruction also severely compromises Delhi's fight against a possible third wave of coronavirus.
People forced to stand in long queues outside ration shops may contract the infection and could pass it on to their children.
Keeping this in mind, the Delhi government had fast-tracked implementation of this scheme," it said.
The CMO claimed that similar models of the last-mile delivery system have been started in Andhra Pradesh and Haryana.