One Nation, One Ration Card

Image Source: The Indian Express

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed states and Union Territories to implement the One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme till July 31 and asked them to run community kitchens to feed migrants till the end of the pandemic.

What is One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC)?

The ONORC scheme is aimed at enabling all beneficiaries, especially migrant workers and their family members to buy subsidised ration from any fair price shop anywhere in the country under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

For instance, a migrant worker from, say, Basti district of Uttar Pradesh will be able to claim Public Distribution System (PDS) benefits in their place of work, say, Mumbai, while the family can continue to go to their ration dealer back home.

How does ONORC work?

ONORC is based on technology that involves details of beneficiaries’ ration card, Aadhaar number and electronic Points of Sale (ePoS).

When a ration card holder goes to a fair price shop, they are identified through biometric authentication on ePoS, which is matched real-time with details on the Annavitaran portal. Once verified, the beneficiary can claim their entitlements. While the Annavitaran portal maintains a record of intra-state transactions, the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System( IM-PDS) portal records the inter-state transactions.

Who will benefit?

As on June 28, there are about 5.46 lakh fair price shops and 23.63 crore ration card holders across the country. Each NFSA ration card holder is assigned to a fair price shop near the place of the ration card registration.81 crore people will gain access to subsidised foodgrains from designated fair price shops under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

When was ONORC launched?

Image Source: Sarkari Yojana

ONORC was launched in August 2019. Work on ration card portability, however, had begun in April 2018 itself, with the launch of the IM-PDS. The idea was to reform the PDS, which has been historically marred by inefficiency and leakages.

What led to the accelerated launch?

ONORC was initially launched as an inter-state pilot. However, when the Covid-19 pandemic forced thousands of migrant workers to return to their villages last year, a need was felt to expedite the rollout. As part of its COVID economic relief package, the government announced the national rollout of ONORC in all states and Union Territories by March 2021.

What’s the current status?

Till date, 32 states and Union Territories have joined the ONORC, covering about 69 crore NFSA beneficiaries. Four states are yet to join the scheme — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal.

According to the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, about 1.35 crore portability transactions of the ration card are being recorded every month under ONORC on an average to the One Ration Card.

Why are some states lagging?

Delhi is yet to start the use of ePoS in fair price shops, which is a prerequisite for the implementation of ONORC. In the case of West Bengal, the state government has demanded that the non-NFSA ration card holders — ration cards issued by the state government — should also be covered under the ONORC.

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