Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan today said that the Government has achieved significant mile stones in the reforms of PDS.
Talking to reporters in Bhubaneswar he said that almost 100 percent ration cards have been digitised across the country. Over 42 percent ration cards have been even linked with Aadhaar cards and Point of Sale Devices, to keep electronic record of allocation to the beneficiaries, have been installed in over 77,000 ration shops, he added.
“These measures will help making PDS more transparent and leak proof,” Paswan said.
Highlighting the initiatives taken by his Ministries during last 20 months, Paswan said that number of states implementing National Food Security Act has now increased to 27, benefiting over 54 crore people with Rs 2/kg wheat and Rs3/kg rice. Now all the States 36 States/UTs have and online redressal of PDS grievances and toll free number for beneficiaries. Online allocation of foodgrains is being made in 20 states.
Paswan said huge paddy procurement has been made during on-going Kharif season ensuring reach of MSP operations to more farmers. 261.37 lakh tonnes paddy has been procured till February 11, 2016 while during last kharif season it was 215.49 lakh tonnes. Even in Odisha procurement till date is 16.07 Lakh tonnes while during last season it was 15.06 lakh tonnes.
The Minister said that in order to give relief to the farmers affected by the unprecedented rains and hailstorms last year, Government relaxed Quality norms for the wheat procurement and also decided to reimburse amount of value cut on such relaxation to the States so that farmers get full Minimum Support Price (MSP). Such a farmer’s centric step has been taken for the first time by any Central Government.
In a bid to increase reach of minimum support price (MSP) operations to more farmers and increase procurement of paddy, the procurement policy has been modified and private firms have been allowed to procure paddy from farmers in a cluster, identified by the respective state government in the states of Assam, Bihar, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. These states lack necessary infrastructure and experience in large scale procurement operations and the Food Corporation of India (FCI), too, does not have a robust procurement mechanism which often forces farmers to go for distress sale. Private firms would deliver custom milled rice (CMR) at the FCI or state government-owned agency godowns.