The Mamata Banerjee government on Tuesday turned down the Centre’s proposal of withdrawing subsidy from the public distribution system (PDS) and vowed to go their own way in this regard.
As a mark of protest to the Centre’s proposal, state food minister Jyotipriyo Mallik skipped the meeting of the food ministers of all states with the union food minister in New Delhi on Tuesday. State food commissioner represented the state in Tuesday’s meeting.
Apart from KV Thomas, minister of state for food and public distribution, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the planning commission, were also present at the meeting.
While the Union food minister said that the government was considering cash transfers into the bank accounts of beneficiaries as an alternative model of food subsidy to address the problem, state government has a different idea.
“The cash transfer should take place on the basis of ADHAR card, so the holders of fake ration cards are eliminated and only legitimate holders get the benefit,” Mallik said, adding that they would send Centre a note stating the state government’s stand over the issue.
Ahluwalia said that cash transfers were a good way to ensure that benefits of PDS reach the desired beneficiaries.
During the meeting, Pawar stressed that the success of modernisation of PDS would depend on the re-engineering of all its components and massive expansion of the infrastructure related to procurement, storage and distribution.
At the meeting suggestions were also made to increase in margin of ration dealers in order to check diversion of food grains and corruption among the ration dealers.
“Checking leakages and diversion of food grain has been a challenge for the successful implementation of the public distribution system,” Thomas said.