Meghalaya BJP president dashes letter to CM seeking coverage of poor families under NFSA

Shillong, Aug 01: Meghalaya BJP president, Ernest Mawrie, has written a letter to Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma requested the state government to include poor families that have been left out of the purview of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 and alleged that this happened due to inefficiencies of subsequent State Governments.

The BJP leader said that that instead of trying to pass the blame on the Central Government for keeping the non-ration card holders outside the extended PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna, the state government should accept that issuing ration cards is the responsibility of the state.

“Instead of trying to hide our failures, I request the CM to accept our own inadequacies and inefficiencies in including the poor and deserving people under NFSA, and to work urgently towards correcting the wrong,” Mawrie said.

The BJP state president said that the Government of India is providing free ration to the needy people under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna (PMCKAY) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this scheme, the government provided free ration to all poor people (both under NFSA, and non-NFSA) for the months of May and June, 2020. This was done so that migrant workers who were stranded in their respective work locations could benefit from the scheme.

Subsequently, and once the Government of India facilitated the return of migrant workers to their homes, the PMGKAY scheme was extended for a period of 5 months (July to November 2020) for NFSA card holders.

“The idea behind providing free ration to the needy people is that, no one sleeps on a hungry stomach during this period when economic activities have been adversely impacted because of the COVID related restriction measures imposed by various states. The above arrangement is expected to benefit the poor families of the state. However, it is appalling to see that the poorest of the poor people in Meghalaya are being denied the benefits of this scheme.

The standard argument being forwarded is that the Government of India has extended the scheme only for people covered under NFSA. Infact, messages are being circulated to the people of the state with the malicious intent of passing the blame to the Government of India for the inefficiencies of the State Government,” Mawrie said.

“I believe that we as a responsible and a morally empathetic government, and you as a responsible legislator should own up to the shortcomings of the administration in providing

NFSA cover to the poor in the state. The failures of the previous Congress Government led by Mukul Sangma in providing ration card to all the poor and needy people of the state cannot be an excuse for us in denying these people the benefits that the Central government has envisaged for them.

The anomaly suggested above has arisen due to the fact that the State government had adopted the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), 2011, for identifying beneficiaries under NFSA in 2013-14,” Mawrie stated.

He also said that the then Government of India had given the liberty to the State Governments to adopt a mechanism for drawing up list of beneficiaries for implementing NFSA, and the then Government of Meghalaya chose the easier route of using the old data. In fact, the data under SECC was further filtered by the Department of Food and Civil Supplies which resulted in the exclusion of many and deserving poor families.

“Moreover, applications were invited from the general public for further inclusion into the NFSA. However, no decision has been taken by the State Government on such applications received. I implore that it would be appropriate if this exercise is taken up so that the additional figures can be appraised to the Government of India, for additional allotment of essential items.

Therefore, and in view of the above facts, I request you to take urgent steps to ensure that all eligible people of Meghalaya are issued ration cards at the earliest.

In the interim period, during which this entire exercise should be completed, I request you to make provisions for including all poor families of the state (including those not yet covered under (NFSA) as beneficiaries of the scheme. I am sure that you will appreciate the urgency of my request and take corrective actions accordingly,” the BJP sate president added.