In a bid to curb pilferage of food grains and rising food subsidy budget, all the 36 states and Union Territories (UTs) should move to direct benefit transfer (DBT) in the public distribution system (PDS) by 2022, where beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) could receive market prices of grains in their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts instead of physical delivery of rice and wheat, a research paper by ICRIER, Indian food and welfare schemes: scope for digitisation towards cash transfers, has said. ICRIER has proposed four-phase rollout of DBT in PDS, with six states/UTs — Punjab, Goa, Delhi, Daman and Diu, Chandigarh and Puducherry — shifting to the DBT within one year.
In the second phase, the ICRIER paper has suggested rollout of DBT in six states — Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala — by 2019. Thirteen states/UTs, having very high share of country’s poor and malnourished population and inadequate banking infrastructure could implement DBT/PDS by 2021 as part of the third phase. In the last phase, DBT/PDS should be rolled out in the remaining 13 states including northeastern, hilly and bordering states by 2022, the paper said.