Orissa to abolish storage agent arrangement from April 1

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 13 (PTI) Taking forward the reformprocess in the public distribution system (PDS), Orissagovernment today decided to abolish storage agent arrangementfrom April 1, the Utkal Divas Day.

This was decided at a high level meeting chaired bychief minister Naveen Patnaik. After abolition of 863 storageagents spread over the state, the government would assign thejob of stocking public distribution items to state run OrissaCivil Supply Corporation, official sources said.

The move came in view of the recommendations made byJustice D P Wadhwa Committee on reform measures in the PDS.

Storage agents in various parts were accused of manipulation.

"The corporation will set up stocking centres in all314 blocks of the state and appoint personnel for the job,"Food and Civil Supplies minister Sarda P Nayak told reporters.

The state government had been in consultation with theNIC for computerisation of all the stocking centres and adopte-governance system in PDS, Nayak said adding additionalmanpower would be required to man the jobs of storage agents.

With computerised system, one can easily verify stockposition in any remote centre, the minister said.

Stating that about Rs 336 crore would be spent onreforming the PDS, he said in first phase of the reform,storage agent arrangement would be abolished from Utkal Diwas.

With the state run PSU doing the job, there was leastchances of corruption in the PDS, he said.

This apart, the government was also mulling to set upa model fair price shop in all the 6,000 odd gram panchayatsto enable people to benefit from the new arrangement, he said.

However, there was apprehension that the corporationcould face difficulties in running the public distributionsystem as it had already been doing procurement of paddy andother crops from the farmers.

In tribal and inaccessible areas, the corporationwould ensure that the people get their PDS items at the doorstep by transporting items by mobile PDS vans.

The minister said that by accepting Wadhwa Committeereport in toto, the state government has to reduce about halfof the existing 30,000 fair price shops.

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