By Sandip Das
In a move to bring in operational efficiency in the storage, movement and distribution of food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the government will roll out a digital system which would provide real time data about the volume as well as quality of rice and wheat stocks with FCI and other government agencies from April 1, 2022.
The Online Storage Management (OSM) system is expected to help route optimisation for distribution of grains and reduce cost of food grain storage by reducing leakages in the system.
Under the OSM system, being developed in collaboration with state governments, the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD), will provide information on foodgrains stocks held in the godowns of Food Corporation of India, Central Warehousing Corporation and state warehousing corporations classified on the basis of procurement year, quality parameters and truck wise data about the grains on the transit at a single source.
“The OSM will track each stack of grain stocks from procurement points to PDS distribution outlets. This initiative will prevent any possibility of manipulation by transport contractors of stock between godowns and fair price shops,” Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, DFPD, told FE.
Pandey said 16 states — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal — have agreed to implement storage management applications by March 15, 2022. Other states are expected to come on board soon.
Officials say that OMS is expected to help route optimisation for distribution of grains and reduce cost of foodgrain storage by putting a check on leakages in the foodgrain management system.
Sources said after a dry run during March 15-31 of the OSM, the system will be rolled out officially from April 1. On an average, FCI and state agencies have grains stocks in the range of 55 million tonne (MT) — 65 MT at a any given point of time.
This initiative to digitalise the foodgrain storage follows the DFPD move to make the procurement of rice and wheat from the farmers through developing an online system where information about land-holding of the farmers are put in the digital format for ensuring that genuine farmers get the benefits of Minimum Support Price (MSP) operations.
The land-record based procurement of foodgrains is being implemented from current Kharif paddy procurement (2021-22) which commenced from October 1, 2021.
In the next stage of reforms in PDS, the food ministry is developing an online payment system to farmers covered under MSP operations across states, so that payments to farmers are tracked on a real time basis.
Under the reforms initiated to improve the TPDS, the government has initiated several measures such as digitisation of ration cards, Aadhaar seeding of ration cards and installation of electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) machines at Fair Price Shops (FPSs).
According to latest data, all the 23.5 ration cards covering more than 80 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act have been digitised, while around 93% of ration cards have been seeded with Aadhaar numbers. At present, more than 95% of 5.33 FPSes located across the country have ePoS machines.
Through digitalisation and Aadhaar seeding, 4.74 crore duplicate ration cards have been weeded out by states/UTs during the period 2013 to 2021.