The Centre is working on the portability of public distribution system (PDS) entitlements, and this will be progressively entitled. This was stated by Ram Vilas Paswan, minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, Government of India, at the first meeting of the food commission chairmen of states and Union Territories (UTs) in New Delhi.
Once the portability of PDS has been implemented, the beneficiaries will be free to receive their entitlements from any fair price shops without being bound to a particular shop. This is already underway in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Gujarat and Delhi, he added.
The minister stated that across the country, 82 per cent ration cards had been linked to the Aadhaar card and 2.95 lakh point-of-sake (PoS) machines had been installed at ration shops to streamline the rationing process and curb pilferages.
About 2.75 crore fake, duplicate and illegal ration cards have been deleted. This has resulted in better annualised targeting of food subsidy, amounting to Rs 17,500 crore per year. Paswan said that these funds will be utilised to provide subsidies to new people.
The highlight of the review meeting was to ensure food grain availability under NFSA in the four states, for which FCI had increased its storage capacity in the north-eastern zone from 4.90 lakh metric tonne (LMT) in March 2015 to 5.62 LMT in January 2018.
In addition to this, capacity enhancement was done upto 25,000 metric tonne (MT) under the Private Entrepreneurs Guarantee scheme at Sorbhog, which will be brought under utilisation soon.
Paswan said, In order to add on to the stocks being moved by rail, to optimally utilise its storage capacities and ensure remunerative prices to the farmers of the region, FCI has been constantly augmenting its procurement operations. He added that a quantity of 67,400 MT of paddy was procured by the Corporation in 2016-17, as against 22,800 MT procured in 2014-15.
In all the North-Eastern states, toll-free numbers have been installed and GPS tracking is being set up to track trucks carrying food from godowns for all-round scrutiny. Also, an online grievance system for addressing the public grievances has been put in place, and a State Food Commission has been set up, he added.
It was also highlighted in the meeting that one of the key variables in ensuring food security in the North-Eastern region (NER) was the induction of sufficient quantum of food grains from the surplus states of North India to those in the North-East with regard to allocation.
It was also stated that since March 2014, 10 new terminals have commenced operation in the North-Eastern Zone for handling food grain rakes to bring nearly all the states of the region under rail induction coverage.
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