The State Government has adopted steps such as door-step delivery and tracking transportation
“We have managed to reduce leakage to around 20 per cent from around 42 per cent in three years’ time. Now our aim is getting it down to zero per cent in the next two years and we are confident of achieving it,” Food and Consumer Protection Minister Shayam Rajak told Business Line. Bihar accounts for a little less than 10 per cent (around 45,000) of total fair prices shops (around 5 lakh) and distributes subsidised food grains to over a lakh families living below the poverty line.
The State Government has adopted measures such as door-step delivery and tracking transportation of food grains through GPS systems.
“Transportation bill is paid only when a vigilance committee of five members certify that food grains have reached in the same quantity as despatched and issue no objection certificates,” Rajak said. Cameras have also been fixed in every godown.
Under the door-step delivery mechanism, food grain is transported to fair price shops unlike the earlier practice of fair price shop owners going to Government warehouses to collect grains.
As soon as commodities reach the shops, an SMS is sent to at least 50 beneficiaries in each locality informing about the arrival of the food material so that people can collect their quota.
Rajak said efforts are on to issue biometric ration card to beneficiaries, so that their authenticity could be established immediately through centralised data system. Rajak, however, did not accept that Bihar is following what States such as Chhattisgarh and Gujarat have done for reforming PDS system in their respective states.
Chhattisgarh is considered to be the pioneer in reforming the PDS system.
Even the previous UPA Government acknowledged its success and asked other States to follow its example. The Raman Singh Government introduced a number of initiatives for improving PDS which included tracking of trucks carrying food grains for door-step delivery, assigning yellow coloured trucks for transportation of food grains for PDS, giving ration cards with barcode and hologram, putting in place call centres for redress of grievances and giving out smart cards for distribution of PDS kerosene.
The State Government managed to do away with duplicate ration cards by cancelling 2.8 lakh cards, besides plugging the leakage.
The State Government issued barcoded ration card and bio-metric based barcoded coupon system. The coupon gives the beneficiary a chance to choose a fair price dealer. At the same time, in order to make the FPS system more viable, the Government also compensates FPS dealers for coupon-based transactions.
Gujarat has also introduced door-step delivery of food grain to the FPS dealers. It has popularised model FPS (Village Mall) scheme and permitted the sale of non-PDS items at FPS by subsidising the working capital loan of those FPS dealers who avail it from banks.
PDS computerisation helped the Government to cancel 16 lakh bogus cards.
Courtesy: The Hindu Business Line