Plea in SC seeking extension of Atmanirbhar scheme

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New Delhi: A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre to extend its scheme of providing dry rations under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme for 8 crore migrant labourers or needy persons not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

The plea has been moved by Harsh Mander, Anjali Bharadwaj and Jagdeep Chhokar seeking a direction to the Centre to extend this scheme for 12 months to ensure inclusion of migrant labourers under NFSA by issuance of ration cards. 

The petitioners also contended that the apex court should also issue direction to the Centre and state governments to set up a proper mechanism in association with the chief secretary of each state to ensure time-bound implementation of the scheme for distribution of food grains to the migrant workers in the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic. 

Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme, which was announced in May, the Centre took cognisance that most migrant workers are left out of the purview of the Public Distribution System (PDS) under the National Food Security Act. The Centre declared that for 8 crore migrant workers, the government will provide 5 kg of food grains per person and 1 kg of pulses per family, free of cost, for a period of 2 months in May and June. 

“This scheme was to cover migrant labourers, stranded persons, who are not covered under the

National Food Security Act (NFSA) or State scheme PDS cards”, said the plea.

The petitioners argued that the scheme for food security of migrant workers has not been extended beyond the 2 months, despite a declaration of National Disaster under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 still being in force and despite no measure of normalcy having returned in the country and in the lives of migrant workers.