Soon beneficiaries of government schemes, who get money under the Direct Benefit Transfer, will need to buy their ration only from fair price shops being run under the Public Distribution System (PDS) to ensure that the funds are spent for what they are meant for.
This will also ensure that the fair price shop owners can’t siphon off the stuff meant to be given to the beneficiaries, food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan told this newspaper.
Under this scheme, all beneficiaries with Aadhaar-enabled bank accounts can go to their respective fair price shops and using biometric identification through Point of Sale machines get their rations at designated prices and amounts.
The programme was initially conceptualised by the Jharkhand government which forwarded it to the Centre and soon a pilot project was launched in the state. Based on the success of the pilot project, the model will be replicated across the country. According to government data, there are 5,05,879 fair price shops across the country. Mr Paswan said that the scheme will also ensure that the government-run fair price shops are not closed due to lack of customers. “All the ration shops would be 100 percent digitised,” he said. The public distribution system is essentially a food security system run by the ministry of consumer affairs, food, and public distribution and are managed jointly by state governments. It distributes subsidized food and non-food items to the poor.
The scheme was first launched on June 1947. Major commodities distributed include staple food grains, such as wheat, rice, sugar, and kerosene, through a network of fair price shops (also known as ration shops) established in several states across the country. Food Corporation of India, a Government-owned corporation, procures and maintains the PDS. In coverage and public expenditure, it is considered to be the most important food security network.