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It is time for political parties to mend their ways

It is time for political parties to mend their ways
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It is time for political parties to mend their ways

Highlights

Amidst the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis in the country, the Union government had announced various economic measures under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP) in the middle of May for migrant workers across the country.

Amidst the outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis in the country, the Union government had announced various economic measures under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP) in the middle of May for migrant workers across the country.

Pursuant to this, the Department of Food & Public Distribution had allocated a total quantity of about 8 Lakh MT of food grains to all States/UTs which was communicated to all States/ UTs under the "Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme" to help mitigate the food-security requirements of migrant/stranded migrants across the country. This scheme was specially provided to cover all such persons who were neither covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) nor under any other State PDS scheme or were not able to access PDS food grains for any reason, during the unprecedented Covid-19 situation. The number of interstate migrants was not documented anywhere but as a matter of abundant precaution and taking into account the extensive media coverage, a very liberal estimate of about 8 crore migrants/stranded migrant persons across the country was made.

The intention was to provide adequately for all eventualities so that the allocation did not fall short of the requirement. It needs to be emphasised that no data on the actual or estimated number of such persons across the country was available with either the Central government or the State governments. Food Department allocated about 4 LMT food-grain per month and a total of 8 LMT for a period of two months i.e. May and June of this year. About 6.38 LMT food grains were lifted by States/UTs based on their own estimates. The lifted quantity of 6.38 LMT of food grains could not be completely utilised/distributed due to reverse migration, it is learnt now. As per reports available up to August 17, out of total 6.38 LMT lifted food grains, a total of about 2.49 LMT (39%) food grains have been distributed by the States/UTs under the scheme.

What is puzzling in the exercise is how come no State government or the Centre estimated the figures of the migrant population right. By all means, even the figures reflected in these estimates could be wrong. There is little to prove that these many crores really benefited going by the food grains lifted. Was there a deliberate attempt to puff up the figures which could have led to wastage of food grains or misuse of the same? If our claims of technological leap in governance is not true and we keep relying upon guesstimates, will it benefit the country in the long run. It is time all governments wake up to the reality and map the population properly. The country needs to do it not just in case of migrant populations. It needs to keep a record for all practical purposes. Unfortunately, the National Population Register and census have run into controversy politically due to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) all political parties need to be blamed. This pandemic crisis is an opportunity for the political class to correct its flaws. Let their attitudes rest a while so that the national interest takes precedence.

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