The Union Food Ministry on Sunday said it has written to all state governments and union territories to provide subsidised foodgrains to all eligible disabled persons under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
States have also been asked to issue fresh ration cards to eligible disabled persons not covered under the NFSA. They have been asked to cover disabled persons who do not have ration cards under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package scheme, it said.
Under the NFSA, the central government distributes highly subsidised foodgrains to more than 81 crore beneficiaries in the country. Each beneficiary is entitled for 5 kg foodgrains at a rate of Rs 1-3 per kg.
“The department advised all States/UTs to ensure that all disabled persons, who are eligible as per identification criteria of beneficiaries under the NFSA, are covered under the NFSA, 2013,” the ministry said in a statement.
The states have been asked to provide entitled quota of foodgrains to eligible disabled persons not only under the NFSA but also under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), it said.
Under PMGKAY, the government is providing additional 5 kg foodgrains to each NFSA beneficiary and 1 kg pulses to beneficiary families free of cost. Initially it was implemented for three months till June and later extended till November.
The PMGKAY is being implemented to help the NFSA beneficiaries tide over the economic hardships created due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The ministry in the letter reiterated that “disability” is one of the criteria for inclusion of beneficiaries under AAY households and as disabled persons are vulnerable section of the society.
The letter further advised that it is imperative disabled persons are also covered by states/UTs under the priority households as per the criteria of identification evolved by them, it said.
The Section 10 of the NFSA provides for coverage of persons under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) in accordance with the guidelines applicable to the said scheme and the remaining households as priority households in accordance with such guidelines as the States Government may specify.
The ministry further asked the states to cover disabled persons without ration cards under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package scheme which was launched specially for migrants –during the COVID-19 lockdown period for May and June — who do not have any ration card – state or central.
“Since this scheme would lapse on August 31, 2020, and there is still one week left for this, the Department requested to all States/UTs, that they may identify such disabled persons who do not have ration cards and provide them benefits under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package,” it said.
The letter also mentioned that the scheme started in May 2020 and it was presumed that all eligible beneficiaries without ration cards including the disabled should have been covered, it said.
It is understood that the ration lifted so far has been utilized by the states for distributing to eligible beneficiaries without ration cards including the disabled. States are requested to undertake proactive steps in this regard, it added.
The section 38 of the Act mandates that the central government may from time to time give directions to the State governments for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.