Even as the centre is yet to clear the Delhi government's proposal on doorstep delivery of subsidised foodgrain, it told the states on Friday to implement a similar programme to prevent starvation deaths.
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan asked the states to deliver ration to the doorsteps of PDS beneficiaries unable to visit Fair Price Shops (FPS).
Addressing a gathering of state Food and Civil Supplies Ministers, Mr Paswan said: "We do not want any deaths due to starvation. Those who are incapable of going to FPS should get ration at their doorsteps. Assign your staff for delivery. If you cannot carry out doorstep delivery, ask the beneficiaries to assign someone to receive the ration on their behalf."
An 11-year-old girl in Jharkhand's Simdega district had allegedly died of starvation last year as her family did not get foodgrain from the PDS shop as their ration card was not linked with the Aadhaar card.
Mr Paswan said that about 81 crore persons in the country were getting foodgrain at subsidised rates -- rice at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg and coarse grains at Re 1 per kg -- which will remained unchanged till 2019.
"We have issued guidelines to the states. We have told them that there should not be any death due to starvation. The central government spends a huge sum of money to give up to 90 per cent subsidy on foodgrain," he told reporters later.
Mr Paswan said that he welcomed the Delhi government's plan to deliver ration at the doorstep of intended beneficiaries but expressed concern about the FPS dealers.
"It is a good thing that they want to deliver ration at the doorsteps. But what will happen to FPS dealers? If other states want to do it, it is welcome as we will be happy that the poor get ration at their homes," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had this month held a protest at the Lieutenant Governor's office over the "rejection" of the doorstep delivery of ration scheme.
Mr Paswan also said that sugarcane arrears had come down after the government took some measures, including a Rs 7,000 crore relief package to the sugar sector.
Cane arrears had increased to Rs 22,654 crore as of June 1.