In the first ten months of 2019, more than half of the total cases of PDS-related corruption are from UP and Bihar.
As corruption touches all quarters of India, even the scheme to feed the poorer sections of the society is not beyond its reach. The most important food security network, Public Distribution System (PDS), is terribly hit by corruption, largely in the two states – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In the first ten months of 2019, more than half of the total cases of PDS-related corruption are from UP and Bihar, according to the data revealed by Danve Raosaheb Dadarao, MoS, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, in a reply to a question in Lok Sabha. Out of 807 cases of corruption related to PDS in India, 328 are from UP and 108 are from Bihar.
Public Distribution System in India exists since 1944, even before the country got independence in August 1947. This also underlines the importance of this scheme for the society. The PDS is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and the States, however, the operational responsibilities rest with the respective State or UT government.
Whenever complaints are received regarding irregularities in the functioning of the PDS, including corruption, leakages, and diversion of subsidised food grains, thus not reaching the intended beneficiaries, they are forwarded to the concerned State/UT government for inquiry and appropriate action at their end.
An offence committed in violation of the provisions of PDS (Control) is liable for penal action under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Hence, the order empowers State/UT governments to take punitive action in case of contravention of relevant provisions of these orders, according to Rajya Sabha. Also, vigilance committees, district grievance redressal officers and independent state food commissions have been set up to make the system more efficient and transparent.
However, despite the efforts, the cases of corruption in this area are significant in number, indicating that the actions taken by the government have failed to terrify the offenders from committing the crime.