Government initiatives undertaken
- Aadhaar Linked and digitized ration cards: This allows online entry and verification of beneficiary data. It also enables online tracking of monthly entitlements and off-take of foodgrains by beneficiaries.
- Computerized Fair Price Shops: FPS automated by installing ‘Point of Sale’ device to swap the ration card. It authenticates the beneficiaries and records the quantity of subsidized grains given to a family.
- DBT: Under the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, cash is transferred to the beneficiaries’ account in lieu of foodgrains subsidy component. They will be free to buy food grains from anywhere in the market. For taking up this model, pre-requisites for the States/UTs would be to complete digitization of beneficiary data and seed Aadhaar and bank account details of beneficiaries. It is estimated that cash transfers alone could save the exchequer Rs.30,000 crore every year.
- Use of GPS technology: Use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to track the movement of trucks carrying foodgrains from state depots to FPS which can help to prevent diversion.
- SMS-based monitoring: Allows monitoring by citizens so they can register their mobile numbers and send/receive SMS alerts during dispatch and arrival of TPDS commodities
- Use of web-based citizens’ portal: Public Grievance Redressal Machineries, such as a toll-free number for call centers to register complaints or suggestions.
- The Justice Wadhwa Committee Report for PDS (2011)
- It recommended end to end computerisation to prevent diversion, and to enable secure identification at ration shops.
- The Committee recognised Chhattisgarh as a model state for prevention of diversion and Gujarat as a model for identification at ration shops.
- Other states have embarked upon the ambitious effort of computerising the whole supply chain, most notably Karnataka, where electronic PDS (e-PDS) covers transactions with authorised wholesale dealers and a biometric database of users.
- As part of Beneficiary Data Digitisation, States/UTs have been requested to seed the Aadhaar Number wherever available so as to weed out bogus/duplicate/ineligible beneficiaries.
- A universal PDS such that every household is entitled to subsidised food grains as seen in Tamil Nadu will go a long way in reducing exclusion errors.
- Primacy should be given to ensuring that the functioning of FCI is streamlined and fast paced as per recommendations of the Shanta Kumar Committee.
- Storage capacities need to be improved ensuring proper storage of procured food grains for PDS schemes.
- Thus, storage capacities have been augmented across the country by using funds under plan schemes as well as through private investment in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
- 100 lakh ton silo storage capacity must be created in the country. For this, RITES has been assigned the task of changing the silo model and they will give their recommendations in 90 days to FCI.
- To improve the usage of Information Technology in FCI, a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) must be implemented.
High Level Committee (HLC) constituted under the chairmanship of Shanta Kumar to restructure, reorient and reform the Food Corporation of India (FCI)
The government had set up a six-member committee under Shanta Kumar to suggest restructuring or unbundling of FCI to improve its financial management and operational efficiency in procurement, storage and distribution of food grains.
Important recommendations made:
- Reduce the number of beneficiaries under the Food Security Act—from the current 67 per cent to 40 per cent.
- While the poor under the Antyodaya category should keep getting the maximum food subsidy, for others, the issue price should be fixed at, say, 50 per cent of the procurement price (as was done under Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the BPL category)
- Allow private players to procure and store food grains.
- Stop bonuses on minimum support price (MSP) paid by states to farmers, and adopt cash transfer system so that MSP and food subsidy amounts can be directly transferred to the accounts of farmers and food security beneficiaries.
- Limit the procurement of rice particularly in the north-western states of Punjab and Haryana where the groundwater table is depleting fast, and invite private sector participation in grain management
- FCI should involve itself in full-fledged grains procurement only in those states which are poor in procurement. In the case of those states which are performing well, like Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, the states should do the procurement.
- Abolishing levy rice: Under levy rice policy, government buys certain percentage of rice (varies from 25 to 75 per cent in states) from the mills compulsorily, which is called levy rice. Mills are allowed to sell only the remainder in the open market.
- Deregulate fertiliser sector and provide cash fertiliser subsidy of Rs 7,000 per hectare to farmers.
- Outsource of stocking of grains: The committee calls for setting up of negotiable warehouse receipt (NWR) system. In the new system, farmers can deposit their produce in these registered warehouses and get 80 per cent of the advance from bank against their produce on the basis of MSP.
- Clear and transparent liquidation policy for buffer stock: FCI should be given greater flexibility in doing business; it should offload surplus stock in open market or export, as per need.
Suggested measures to improve efficiency in PDS functioning
- Distribution of food coupons maybe adopted to stop leakages at the FPS level, especially in poorly performing states like Assam and Uttar Pradesh. Twelve coupons a year maybe distributed through village Beneficiaries will exchange one coupon every month when collecting their quota of food grain. Their entitlement and exact issue price of grains should be written clearly on the coupons.
- Ration cards should be digitised. It is important to minimise red tape and distribute the digitised cards at the earliest.
- The introduction of electronic weighing machines in place of conventional ones may help resolve the problem of beneficiaries receiving less than their entitlement of food grain under the Frequent power cuts and problems with Internet usually hinders the use of such machines. Therefore, it is also important to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity, proper power back-up and Internet connectivity.
- To decrease leakage of food grains, one important step is to authenticate whether the food grain distributed through the PDS is received by an eligible household. Collecting biometric information of all cardholders in a household (head of the family and other members of the household), linking it with their Aadhar number and storing the data may solve the problem. This will also enable any member of a household to collect monthly Karnataka has already collected biometric information of ration cardholders in selected districts.
- Lack of awareness regarding their entitlement and the issue price among beneficiaries is another Display boards containing the correct information about entitlement, availability of food grain and issue price should be maintained at all FPSs. Information must be written in the local language so that it is easily read by beneficiaries.
- A significant proportion of PDS beneficiaries are illiterate and may not be able to read the information on the display board. Hence, information related to the PDS can also be disseminated through awareness campaigns conducted by NGOs and government officials on a regular basis in villages.
- The introduction of an SMS alert at the beneficiary level is an important measure to increase
- A sample of the food grain to be distributed is not kept in the majority of FPSs. Some FPS dealers complained that they do not even see such samples in the godown from where they collect the PDS The practice of keeping such samples needs to be re-introduced. It will help beneficiaries to match the quality of food grain that they are supposed to receive with the food grain they actually receive from the FPS.
Suggested measures to introduce an effective monitoring mechanism
- Unbiased inspection of FPSs by the state department of food and civil supply should be arranged on a regular At present, inspectors visit FPSs only occasionally, and they do not always check all the registers in the FPS. The process is characterised by corruption.
- Introducing a corruption-free monitoring mechanism will be crucial to the success of the food security programme.
- Gram panchayat members should be made aware of their role in the PDS. Such awareness may be increased through the involvement of civil society and local NGOs
- Representatives from state food departments should meet beneficiaries in villages or urban wards to listen totheir complaints and address their concerns at regular intervals.
- The grievance redressal mechanism in all states needs to be revamped immediately. The Department of Food in each state should open a special cell on grievance redressal and appoint a grievance redressal officer as the nodal person
- State governments should take initiatives to reconstitute the vigilance committee(VC) in all villages and urban wards. Awareness of the existence of the committee should be increased among The VCs should be elected by local villagers and should consist of representatives from the gram panchayat and the beneficiaries.
- Appropriate budget allocation should be made to maintain the monitoring system.
Suggested measures to identify target households
- The identification process needs to be state or region-specific since state priorities are different across the However, the criteria adopted should help to easily identify the target group.
- In several instances, the respondents’ lack of education results in their giving incorrect information. Therefore, interviewers need to be trained rigorously.
- Organisations conducting identification surveys should have a strong local base and proficiency in the local language to get the right They must be chosen at the state level.
- Organisations participating in such surveys should be unbiased with no political inclination. The survey will become error-free only when it can be conducted in a non-corrupt environment without interference from any political party.