The Naveen Patnaik Government may have made rice at `1-per-kg its flagship programme for the next polls, but the rice may not be eventually consumed by the poor due to loopholes in public distribution system (PDS) in the State.
If provision of cheap rice to BPL households is meant to arrest food insecurity and check starvation death, the scheme may miss the target by a wide margin as the latest NSSO survey says that not many poor actually access the PDS items. It has revealed that the households reporting consumption of PDS rice in rural Odisha stands at 51.6 per cent, which means a little above half the rural poor consume PDS rice.
Tamil Nadu reports highest consumption at 91 per cent followed by Andhra Pradesh at 84 per cent and Karnataka at 74.6 per cent. Even neighbouring Chhattisgarh with 67.4 per cent consumption over a 30-day period is above Odisha.
The 66th Round of NSSO Survey on Household Consumption Expenditure from PDS and Consumption of Rural Households from Home Produced Stock was carried out from July, 2009 to June, 2010. The survey reveals that only about 19 per cent of households in urban Odisha report PDS rice consumption against 67 per cent in Karnataka and 34.7 per cent in Chhattisgarh. The all-India rate is 20.6 per cent.
Despite pumping in huge volume of rice through cheap rice schemes, the share of PDS contribution in total consumption of rice by rural households remains just about 24.8 per cent. It is 52.7 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 45 per cent in Karnataka.
Similarly, in urban Odisha, the contribution of PDS rice in total consumption is just 13.3 per cent. The `1-a-kg rice scheme is touted to cover more than 58 lakh beneficiaries with an estimated expenditure of `1,400 crore per year.
Sugar, another important PDS item, is also consumed less compared to others States. According to the survey, 19.1 per cent of households in rural areas of Odisha reported purchase of PDS sugar. In Tamil Nadu, it was highest 86.4 per cent. The percentage of households in Chhattisgarh consuming PDS sugar was 53.8.
In urban areas, just 10.7 per cent of households purchased PDS sugar. However, consumption of PDS kerosene in rural Odisha is found to be encouraging with 82.8 per cent of households purchasing it. The highest consumption is in Bihar at 93.8 per cent. In rural areas, the consumption drops to 34.2 per cent.
Since Odisha is not a wheat consuming State, the percentage of households reporting consumption of PDS wheat is just 5.2 in rural Odisha which means just over 5 per cent get the opportunity to consume PDS wheat in a 30-day period.