End-to-End computerization of TPDS Operations Scheme
PDS means distribution of essential commodities to larger section of the society, mostly vulnerable people, through a network of fair Price Shops on a recurring basis. The essential commodities under PDS at present are
wheat, rice, sugar and Kerosene.
The first government intervention in the PDS in India started in 1940 during the interwar period. Further genesis of PDS occurred during the periods of India-China and India-Pak wars when country face critical shortages of food grains.
FCI was established in 1964 to handle the shortage of food grains clubbed with black marketing of the food grains by hoarders was a reason for the government to take some action for the containment of rise in food grains prices and ensured access of food to urban consumers. The PDS network expanded in 1970s and 1980s, after the Green Revolution. In the 1980s, the PDS coverage was extended to the rural areas. By 1985, efforts were made to make it available to all the tribal blocks of the country. Today, with the network of around 5 Lakh fair price shops PDS is virtually world’s largest system of its kind.
However, PDS was criticized for several reasons as follows:
- Its bias towards the urban consumers and inability to reach to the last corner of the country.
- Some states such as Bihar and UP were virtually out of the PDS network.
- There are no criteria of monitoring the high income group purchases more than low income purchases.
- The coverage and network of PDS does not ensure that the poorest or the poor is benefited/
- The PDS has been untargeted and proved to be regressive in some parts of the nations.
- Consumers get inferior food grains in ration shops. Because, the dealers replace good supplies received from the F.C.I. with inferior stock.
- Issue of the bogus cards in large numbers which are used to procure the grains from the PDS and sell them in open market.
- The dealers have little profit so indulge in malpractices. .
Targeted PDS System
Operation of the PDS is the joint responsibility of the Central and the State Governments. The Central government is responsible for procurement, storage, transportation of food grains and bulk allocation of food grains to the State Governments. The state government’s responsibility is operational such as identification of families below the poverty line, Issue of Ration Cards , supervision of the functioning of FPS. The PDS commodities viz. wheat, rice, sugar and kerosene, are allocated to the States/UTs for distribution by the Central Government. Cloth, exercise books, pulses, salt and tea, etc. are distributed by the state governments if they are capable to do so.
Till 1992, the PDS was untargeted and a general entitlement scheme for all consumers. Due to criticism & mismanagement allegations, in June 1992, the Revamped Public Distribution System (RPDS) was launched in 1775 blocks of the country. However, in 1997, the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) was introduced with effect from June 1997.The focus of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is on “poor in all areas” and TPDS involves issue of 10 Kg of food grains per family per month for the population Below Poverty Line (BPL) at specially subsidized prices.
The TPDS requires the states to
- Formulate and implement foolproof arrangements for identification of poor,
- Effective delivery of food grains to Fair Price Shops (FPSs)
- Its distribution in a transparent and accountable manner at the FPS level.
The “Targeted” means that the focus is really poor and vulnerable sections of society. The identification of the poor under the TPDS is the responsibility of the State governments.
Computerisation of Targeted Public Distribution System
Central Government has taken the initiative for end-to-end computerization of PDS across the country. For this purpose, a Scheme has been formulated to cover all States / UTs and end-to-end computerisation of TPDS. Recently the government has approved the phase-1 of the end-to-end computerization of TPDS Operations in the 12th Five Year Plan with an outlay of Rs. 884.07 crore on a cost sharing basis.
Here is the relevant discussion.
Need for Computerization
- Computerization of PDS is a must for strengthening and revamping the Public Distribution System and for addressing the challenges faced by PDS i.e. inclusion/exclusion errors, leakages/diversion of foodgrains, lack of transparency, weak grievance redressal and social audit mechanism and lack of viability of Fair Price Shops.
Components of the Scheme
For achieving end-to-end Computerization of TPDS, the Department of Food & Public Distribution, Government of India has identified 4 key parts which are required to be implemented in all the States/UTs as below:
- Creation & Management of digitized Beneficiary Database
- Supply-Chain Management of TPDS commodities from Food Corporation of India (FCI) till Fair Price Shops (FPS)
- Sale of TPDS commodities at Fair Price Shops including identification and authentication of beneficiaries and recording of transactions.
- Transparency and Grievance Redressal Mechanism
The scheme is in two components. What has been recently approved is component-1 which includes the following:
- Supply-Chain computerization of the entire TPDS operations: This would also cover monitoring of foodgrains allocation, storage and movement starting from the base depots of FCI till the FPS.
- The information related to the supply-chain would be made available in public domain through the Transparency Portal.
- The portal would have different dashboards catering to the varying information needs of various stakeholders involved in TPDS operation Digitisation of beneficiary database and computerisation of supply-chain are expected to be implemented by March, 2013 and October, 2013 respectively
This is the later phase of computerization. This component relates to the computerization of operations at the Fair Price Shop. Under the Gujarat model, new Bar Coded Ration Cards were issued to all existing card –holders as well as for fresh Ration Cards also. The new Ration Card System captured the biometric information of at least one adult member depicted in the Ration Card. Along with Bar Coded Ration Cards, the Gujarat model requires issue of Bar Coded Food Coupons to the beneficiaries.
Pattern of Cost Sharing
The pattern of cost sharing between Centre and States would be on 90:10 basis for the North-Eastern States, whereas for other States/UTs, cost is to be shared equally. Shares of Government of India and State Governments/UT Administrations are estimated at Rs.489.37 crore and Rs.394.70 crore respectively.
How it will impact the general public?
The Targeted public distribution system (TPDS) provides 35 kg food grain to those below poverty line (BPL) at Rs 4.5 per kg. But the food grains have not been reaching the intended beneficiaries. That the deserving often don’t get included in the BPL list is another problem. Digitisation of beneficiary database will help in weeding out bogus ration cards and better targeting of subsidies. With computerisation of the supply-chain, the movement of foodgrains up to Fair Price Shop (FPS) level, can be tracked and the problem of leakage and diversion can be addressed. Facilities of SMSs, e-mails, toll free numbers will be used to inform the beneficiary about the availability of TPDS supplies in the FPS, which will ensure timely and transparent distribution of foodgrains to beneficiaries as per their entitlement. The transparency portal and social audit will further strengthen the functioning of FPSs and ensure accountability at various levels. Beneficiaries will also be able to register their grievances through toll free numbers and seek resolution.