Complaints against supply of foodgrains on the rise

A look at state-wise data discloses that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal received higher number of complaints in 2020 during the first wave.

Published: 15th August 2021 08:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th August 2021 08:09 AM   |  A+A-

Rice distribution through ration shops

Image for representation (File photo| EPS)

NEW DELHI:  Complaints of irregularities in public distribution of free foodgrains during the pandemic in 2020 recorded a steep rise. Numbers increased nearly three times compared to the previous year. These complaints were related to leakage, diversion of foodgrains, not reaching intended beneficiaries, quality and quantity, etc. Uttar Pradesh recorded maximum number of complaints. Ministry officials said there have been reports of irregularities in implementation of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) as well as reports of supply of rotten foodgrains. Since operational responsibilities of TPDS rest with the states/UTs, these complaints are sent to them for inquiry and action to be taken.

A look at state-wise data discloses that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal received higher number of complaints in 2020 during the first wave. Southern states like Tamil Nadu (51), Karnataka (76) and Andhra Pradesh (24) recorded fewer complaints. A parliamentary standing committee in its recent report took note of the issue and said that in spite of the system of monitoring, diversion of foodgrains continues. “It is pertinent to ensure that these systems work properly. In view of the aforesaid position, the committee strongly recommends the department to ensure that the various monitoring mechanism work properly, failing which the objective of having the mechanism is defeated.”

The committee felt the government should take the issue of monitoring seriously. “Since crores are spent for allocating subsidised foodgrains to the poorest of the poor in the country every year, it is vital that the benefits reach the intended sections of the society,” it said.In March 2020, the government allocated about 121.43 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of foodgrains (rice/wheat) under the PM-GKAY scheme to all states/UTs for additional free-of-cost distribution to about 80 crore beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act. The PM-GKAY was extended for the next five months up to November 2020. An additional  201 LMT was allocated.

The TPDS is governed as per provisions of the National Food Security Act and operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and state governments. The Central government, through Food Corporation of India, has the responsibility of procuring, storing, transporting and allocating foodgrains in bulk to the states. The operational responsibility of allocating within the state, identifying eligible families, issuing ration cards rests with the states/UTs.

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