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All is not well with PDS, huge diversion: Plan Panel

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Oct 21 (UNI) A Planning Commisson-sponsored study reveals the huge diversion of foodgrains under the Public Distribution System (PDS) with figure in the case of wheat being as high as 36 per cent, 31 per cent for rice and 23 per cent relating to sugar supplies.

It also highlights that diversion is more in Northern, Eastern and North Eastern regions. It is comparatively less in Southern and Western regions.

A 64 per cent of diversion of rice is estimated in Bihar and Assam. In the case of wheat, the diversion is 100 per cent in Nagaland and 69 per cent in Punjab.

The study by Tata Economic Consultancy Services on diversion is part of a wider Report by the Commission on 'Public Distribution and Food Security.' The Commission says all is not well with the PDS and notes that the level of food subsidy as a proportion of total government expenditure has gone up from about 2.5 per cent or below at the beginning of the 1990s to about three per cent towards the end of the decade.

Diversion has been estimated less in the case of sugar as compared to wheat and rice. The Commission says the PDS is better organised in towns where sugar is consumed while its infrastructure is weak in rural areas, especially in poorer Northern Eastern, Eastern and North Eastern States.

A case study on Bihar cited by the Planning Commission reveals the following stark realities: -- Dealership and even membership of vigilance committees are seen as positions where money can be made; -- The procedure to appoint them is highly politicised and mostly clients of MLAs are appointed; -- Sub-district infrastruture to handle foodgrains is poor; Ranchi had only 11 godowns for 20 bocks; -- The Civil Supplies Corporation has no working capital to buy from Food Corporation of India (FCI). Vans are in poor condition or have no money for petrol; and the staff does not receive salaries for months; -- All in all, only government staff, agents and retailers benefit from the scheme.


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