The Union minister of food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan has said that as of April 24, 2016, the number of ration shops having electronic point of sale (e-Pos) devices has increased to 1,01,435 compared to just 5,835 shops in May 2014.
In an interview to Financial Express, he said, by March 2017, e-Pos will be set up in 3,00,000 shops and by 2019, all the five million odd ration shops in the country would be connected through point of sale devices except may be in some hilly areas.
In the last two years of the NDA government, the focus has been on reforming the public distribution system (PDS) through measures such as digitalisation and Aadhaar-seeding of ration cards and linking of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns through an online platform. These measures have led to weeding out of more than a crore fake ration cards.
On the progress in terms of PDS reforms, the minister said, “When we took over, only 11 states had rolled out the National Food Security Act (NFSA). At that time, the work related to digitisation of ration cards or their seeding with Aadhaar or online allocation of foodgrain to states, computerisation of supply chain management etc, were not initiated. The 11 states, just out of political compulsion, had launched the NFSA to garner votes in the 2014 elections. The Act was rolled out in these 11 states just to show that grains are being distributed at Rs 3 per kg for rice, Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 1 for coarse cereals, and nothing was there in the name of reforming the PDS.
“When we took over in 2014, only 2% of the ration cards were seeded with Aadhaar. Today, it has risen to 53.04% as on April 19, 2016. Now, if you go by state-wise progress, states and UTs like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Chandigarh have seeded all their ration cards with Aadhaar.
“Similarly, online foodgrain allocation was on in nine states, today it has risen to 26 states, supply chain was computerised just in four states, but today, almost 15 states have computerised supply chains. Besides, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in PDS was not there, but now it has been started in UTs — Puducherry, Chandigarh and the urban areas of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The FCI’s depot online was not initiated then, but by July 2016, all the 550 FCI depots would be come under an online platform.”