The Centre today asked state governments to provide home delivery of highly subsidised foodgrains to the PDS beneficiaries to avoid instances of starvation death.
The Centre today asked state governments to provide home delivery of highly subsidised foodgrains to the PDS beneficiaries to avoid instances of starvation death. These were among other reforms the state governments have been asked to pursue urgently in order to strengthen the public distribution system (PDS) — also called ration shops. The matter was discussed in detail with state food ministers meeting here in the national capital.
“We have given guidelines to all states to ensure there are no starvation death because of non-delivery of PDS grains. As a precautionary measure, we have asked states to provide for doorstep delivery of subsidised grains,” Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters after the meeting. He further said that state governments should keep a watch on beneficiaries who are not lifting their ration for last three consecutive months.
“It could be possible that such beneficiary may be rich and they do not require and such ration card can be cancelled. There could be another possibility that some beneficiaries are not able to visit ration shop because of old age and physical disability. In that case, we need to provide home delivery of ration,” Paswan added. The minister also informed that the subsidy rate at which foodgrains are supplied through ration shops has not been revised since the food law was rolled out in July 2013. PDS rates have been kept unchanged for rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grains at Rs 1/kg.
Highlighting PDS reforms undertaken so far, Paswan said that states which are slow should complete in a time-bound manner. Digitisation of data of PDS beneficiaries, facility for online grievance redressal, toll-free helplines, installation of PoS (point of sale) machines, online capturing of transaction are key reforms to be undertaken for effective implementation of the food security law.
In the meeting, the Odisha government sought higher allocation of subsidised foodgrains taking into account six per cent increase in the state population to 4.30 crore. The state also sought central government intervention in ensuring smooth movement of potato from producing states to consuming states.
The Kerala government, which is implementing universal PDS, also demanded allocation of more foodgrains and also pulses. As many as 15 state food ministers participated in the meeting besides senior officials from state and central governments.