The district food and supply controller (DFSC) on Saturday started wheat distribution to the identified poor beneficiaries in the district under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.
The district food and supplies controller, (DFSC, east) Sona Thind said, “Work of district-wide distribution of subsidised wheat under the NFSA has started. The wheat is distributed at Rs 2 per kg. The district has 3.48 lakh beneficiaries, duly identified by the office of the deputy commissioner.”
The district has received 41,537 of metric tonnes of wheat for the period from October 15 to March 16, which will be distributed at 25 centres. The distribution has begun mainly at Raikot, Machhiwara, Jagraon, Doraha, Payal, Samrala and Khanna blocks.
Out of the total wheat received, 8,357 metric tonnes is covered under the Centre’s Antodaya Ann Yojna (AAY), while the rest has been received under the priority household category that is further categorised under blue-card holders and for people falling under the below poverty line (BPL).
For priority and blue-card holder category, 5 kg of wheat is distributed to each family member, while under the AAY, 35 kg is distributed to every card holder every month.
First started as a state-sponsored ‘Atta-Dal scheme’ on August 15, 2007, to provide subsided wheat, flour and pulses- dal (channa, whole moong and whole urd), the scheme has gone through many ups and down. While wheat flour was subsidised and provided at Rs 4 per kg, the pulses were given at Rs 20 per kg. The focus now is on distribution of wheat to beneficiaries identified under Antodaya-AAY (poorest of the poor) and priority households.
The nation-wide wheat distribution scheme had run into rough weather in Punjab in July 2014, when food inspectors resisted the government instructions to take on all responsibilities from loading and unloading of wheat to its distribution among the identified beneficiaries. The inspectorate food supply union went on four-day strike protesting against those instructions. Subsequently, the government amended the instructions, making inspectors ‘supervisors’, while entrusting ration depot holders with the responsibility of distributing wheat.
Later, the ration depot holders also protested over payment of commission for the distribution.
Under the scheme, of the Rs 87 per quintal that the centre pays to the states, 50 % is the share of the states. Punjab was non-committed on determining this share, while other states were paying their part.
“Our main aim is to complete the wheat distribution by end of this month or before wheat procurement. Our field officers will distribute the wheat even on Saturdays and Sundays to finish the work on time and they will be compensated afterwards for working on off days,” said Sona Thind.