Even as he launched the Smart Ration Card scheme to cover 1.41 crore beneficiaries across the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced a separate state-funded scheme to provide subsidized rations to the 9 lakh beneficiaries not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
With this, the total number of beneficiaries in the state will go up to 1.50 crore, the Chief Minister announced, while rolling out the Smart Card Scheme under which 37.5 lakh cards will be distributed to the eligible beneficiaries this month.
Captain Amarinder said the Centre had capped the maximum number of beneficiaries to 1.41 crore and, despite repeated requests, had not agreed to provide subsidized rations to the deserving 9 lakh people not covered under NFSA. His government had therefore decided to cover all such left out eligible persons under a State-funded scheme, details of which will be announced shortly, he said.
Launching the Smart Ration Card scheme virtually, with connection to 100 places across the state, the Chief Minister said the scheme would help curb corruption and give freedom to the beneficiaries to buy from any depot. Describing it as a major step towards empowering the beneficiary, he said it will end the exploitation of beneficiaries by unscrupulous ration depot holders. The Smart Ration Card empowers the beneficiary to get his entitled quota of foodgrains from any Ration Depot in the State of Punjab.
The Chief Minister lashed out at the BJP-led central government for attempting to destroy the spirit of Punjab’s farmers, who have toiled for the country and fed the nation, through the farm ordinances. These ordinances are aimed at ending the MSP regime and will hit the farmers hard, he said.