Centre claims 100% digitisation of ration cards

The central government claims to have achieved significant milestones in the reforms of public distribution system (PDS) with almost 100 per cent (99.9 per cent) digitisation of ration cards across the country.

The centre's claim comes at a time when some states like Kerala have completely muddled up the process of issuing ration cards. 

At the same time, the centre also claims that over 54 crore people are benefiting with Rs2-a-kg wheat and Rs3-a-kg rice after the implementation of the Food Security Act in 27 states.

The ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution says that over 42 per cent of ration cards have been even linked with Aadhaar cards and that point of sale devices, to keep electronic record of allocation to the beneficiaries, have been installed in over 77,000 ration shops.

These measures will help in making PDS more transparent and leak proof, union minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said while addressing media in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

Paswan said that number of states implementing National Food Security Act has now increased to 27, benefiting over 540 million people with Rs 2-a-kg wheat and Rs3-a-kg rice. Now all the 36 states and union territories have an online  redressal system for PDS grievances and toll free number for beneficiaries. Online allocation of foodgrains is being made in 20 states, he claimed.

Paswan said 26.14 million tonnes of paddy has been procured during the on-going Kharif season (till 11 February 2016) ensuring reach of MSP operations to more farmers. Against this paddy procurement during the last kharif season was 21.55 million tonnes. Even in Odisha procurement till date is 1.61 million tonnes while during last season it was 1.51 million tones, he pointed.

He said the implementation of NFSA is likely in all the states/UTs by April this year.

In order to check leakage and diversions and to facilitate direct cash transfer of food subsidy to the beneficiaries has been launched in Chandigarh and Puducherry in September 2015, Under the scheme, in lieu of foodgrains subsidy component is credited directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries who will be free to buy foodgrains from anywhere in the market.

The central government also decided to share 50 per cent (75 per cent in the case of hilly and difficult areas) of the cost of handling and transportation of foodgrains incurred by the states and the dealers' margin so that it is not passed on to the beneficiaries and they get coarse grains Re-1-a-kg, wheat at Rs2-a-kg and rice at Rs3-a-kg.

To ensure that beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act get entitled foodgrains positively, rules for payment of food security allowance to the beneficiary in the case of non-delivery of foodgrains have been notified.

In order to provide nutritional security to the economically vulnerable sections of society and to have better targeting of ''other welfare schemes' for poor, a committee of ministers set up under the chairmanship of minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution has decided continuation of foodgrain allocation for other welfare schemes and has also recommended for providing milk and eggs – pulses etc under the schemes.

He said his ministry is creating a buffer stock of 1.5 lakh tones of pulses and that FCI has started procurement pulses from farmers at market price or MSP whichever is higher. FCI has targeted the procurement of 20,000 tonnes of arhar, 2,500 tonnes of urad (total 22,500 tonnes) during the kharif marketing season 2015-16. Similarly, a target has been fixed for procurement of 40,000 tonnes Chana and 10,000 tonnes of Masur (total 50,000 tonnes) during the rabi marketing season 2015-16, he added.