Kerala and Tamil Nadu have also rolled out the National Food Security Act (NFSA). With this, now the Act has been implemented in all the States and Union Territories. As a result, now 81.34 crore persons will get wheat at Rs. 2/ kg and rice at Rs. 3/ kg. This was announced by Union Minister of Consumer Affair, Food & Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan while interacting with the media here today. Being an important initiative for ensuring food security of the people, the Government of India actively pursued with all the States/UTs for its early implementation.
Shri Paswan said now the Center will focus on further reforms in PDS, which will include end to end computerization of the system for which States/UTs are being technically and financially assisted. He said this is important for bringing in transparency in the functioning of the public distribution system (PDS), which is vital feature of NFSA, in order to check leakages and diversion of foodgrains.
Highlighting other initiatives taken by the Centre to make the PDS leakage proof, Shri Paswan said that the beneficiary’s data base has been digitized in all the 36 States/UTs, wherein, information is available right upto beneficiary level and is in the public domain. Online allocation of foodgrains in being done in 28 States/UTs, and the entire foodgrain supply chain has been computerized in 18 States/UTs. 100 percent linkage of Ration Cards with Addhar, which is 71% at the moment, will be achieved. Foodgrains losses of FCI have been brought down to 0.04 percent and major FCI depots have been made online.
. In another significant step towards better targeting and leakage-free distribution of foodgrains, direct benefit transfer is being carried out in two different modes. In the first mode, food subsidy is being transferred in cash into the bank account of beneficiaries, who then have the choice to buy foodgrains from the open market. This has been started in UTs of Chandigarh, Puducherry and urban areas of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. The second mode involves automation of fair price shops, for distribution of foodgrains through an electronic point of sale (e-PoS) device which authenticates beneficiaries at the time of distribution and also electronically captures the quantum of foodgrains distributed to the family. As of 31.10.2016, e-PoS devices are operational in 1,61,854 fair price shops.
For smooth functioning of PDS, State Governments are also being provided Central assistance for meeting expenditure of intra-State transportation & handling of foodgrains and fair price shop dealer’s margin. The assistance for fair price shops dealers margin also contains a component of assistance for installation and operation of Pos devices at fair price shops. So far, Rs. 1874 crore has been released to State Governments by the Government of India in 2016-17.
At this current coverage, monthly allocation of foodgrains to States/UTs under the Act is about 45.5 lakh tons, with subsidy implication of about Rs. 11,726 core per month or about Rs. 1,40, 700 crore per year.
Regarding Sugarcane arrears, Shri Paswan said 2014-15 arrears which were Rs.21,000 at the peak have now come down Rs 205 crore. Prices of pulses except Chana have come down. Regarding wheat prices he said that Government has decided to release additional 10 lakh ton wheat for sale in domestic Market under FCI OMS scheme.