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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

PDS big fix: From silos to ration shop

Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 05, 2012
First Published: 00:04 IST(5/10/2012) | Last Updated: 01:11 IST(5/10/2012)

The cabinet has approved a Rs. 4,500-crore plan to overhaul the public distribution system (PDS), through which grains meant for the poor are often stolen by intermediaries because of dodgy records.

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The big fix is already in progress and Thursday’s approval will hasten the process by allocating dedicated funds. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2012/10/05-10-12-pg-13c.jpg

The government distributes cheap food grains among the poor through a pilferage-prone network of 500,000 “fair-priced shops”. The Rs. 75,000 crore-a-year exercise is easy to fudge: stocks often move only on paper, not on trucks, and grains would go to feed ghost consumers.

Yet, it's a tight race against time. The system needs to be plugged and tested before the food security law can take off.

Stopping the PDS plunder required just a look at what large-format stores do to keep a tab on stocks: bar-coded inventories, electronic registers, GPS-tracked shipments and digital delivery records.

The plan is to have end-to-end computerisation of the PDS, which includes fair price shop automation, computerisation of the supply chain, digitisation of the ration card database, mobile phone alerts, and setting up of a transparency portal and toll-free phone numbers for complaints. Governments will also have to link the process with Aadhaar or unique citizen identity numbers.  


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