The West Bengal government has made insurance cover mandatory for all fair price shops in the public distribution system (PDS), popularly known as ration shops.On November 21, the principal secretary of the state food & supplies department and the state food commissioner, Manoj Kumar Agarwal issued the order.Read: Rajasthan govt partners with Future Group to manage PDS shopsWest Bengal government is the first state government in India to make insurance coverage mandatory for all the fair price shops affiliated to it, state food & supplies minister, Jyotipriyo Mullick claimed.There are 20,268 fair price shops throughout the state.“This year several dealers faced loss of stocks because of the floods. Mandatory insurance coverage will relieve the financial burden of the state government that is faced with the demands of compensating the dealers,” said Mullick. However, he could not say the quantum of compensation that the government has to pay.“The rule will be applicable for both existing dealers as well as for future applicants for ration card license. For new applicants the clause for mandatory insurance coverage will be included in the application form. For existing dealers, the government will either cancel, or not renew, the license if they do not get insurance coverage policies within a specific period of time,” Mullick said.Read: Get Darjeeling tea, edibles from Jharkhand PDS stores soonIn the present system, the government has to compensate the dealers for the loss. “Once the insurance coverage is obtained, the dealers can seek compensation directly from the service provider,” the minister said. Food department officials told HT that the dealers will have the liberty of choosing the insurance service provider. “The premium has to be paid by the dealer,” Mullick added.Officials said the premium will be based on the estimated food items that the ration dealers will stock in a year..