Gangtok, June 2:

Social and Political Activist, Passang Sherpa who is also the Coordinator for the ‘I am 371F Campaign’ issued a press release on the new scheme of ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’, where he has maintained that the SKM Government yet again succumbed to the Centre’s attempt to ‘tinker’ with the country’s federal structure, by encroaching on and usurping state subjects.

The ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ was rolled out by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 14 in all states and Union Territories by March 2020. This card will enable that under the National Food Security Act, 2013, about 81 crore persons are entitled to buy subsidized food grain — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Re 1/kg — from their designated Fair Price Shops (FPS) of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

The authentication for this scheme will be through Aadhaar verification. The goal of the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme is to provide solutions to the limitations of the earlier food security schemes that were domicile or state-based, which means that the beneficiaries could only allot via a fixed Public Distribution System (PDS). Since 37% of the population in India constitutes migrant workers, to obtain a Ration Card could take 2-3 months, and it would be hard for them to obtain one in a new location which could lead to losses for the migrant force. This scheme will make it easier for the migrant workers to avail rations in all corners of the country. 

Sikkim also joined this bandwagon on June 1. The Public Distribution System falls under the State Subject, and with Sikkim implementing the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ Sherpa criticized the State government for its ‘hasty implementation’ without fully understanding the complications and burdens that will arise for the state exchequer, which now shows the weakness of the SKM government.

Even the Tamil Nadu Government has argued that the scheme is against federalism since each state has different rates, they have said that there could be ‘divergences and objectionable consequences.

Claiming that in the past year, the state has already lost many state subjects to the Centre like- the Motor Vehicle Act, Citizenship Act amongst others and that Sikkim is on the verge of losing state right to electricity to the Centre Government, Sherpa believes that the approval of this scheme, without consulting any stakeholders has made the Sikkimese public apprehensive to the intent of the State Government to protect and safeguard the rights and interests of the Sikkimese people. 

Through this press release, Sherpa has put forward this question in the interest of the Sikkimese public: If the Government has figured out how the PDS is going to work, how the quota is given and how to collect data. How will the Government meet one State’s quota with another?

Conclusively, Sherpa has also said, “The State Government will be held responsible if the PDS collapses in Sikkim due to their negligence.”

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