PDS ration home delivery scheme awaits Maha cabinet nod

Posted By: Pti
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Mumbai, Feb 25 (PTI) Maharashtra cabinet is likely todiscuss a significant measure aimed at revolutionisingdelivery of items through the public distribution system(PDS), which could help save the state government around Rs200 crore per year.

The ''home delivery of PDS foodgrain'' scheme, which beganas a pilot project in Nashik district, is presently beingimplemented in about 3,000 villages in 11 of the 35 districtsin Maharashtra.

"The scheme is likely to come up before the cabinet inthe next few weeks, and would be implemented throughout thestate after the cabinet nod," an official said.

Under this model, foodgrain are distributed through PDS,once in three months, six months or a year. This is incontrast to the monthly distribution system, which isexpensive in terms of transportation and is also not effectivein clearing stocks.

The scheme is the brainchild of senior bureaucrat ShekharGaikwad, now in the Chief Minister''s Office, who launched itwhen he was Nashik''s Additional Collector.

Some glaring lacunae in the present PDS include:Foodgrain not reaching the village; beneficiaries don�treceive their monthly allotted quota; shops are rarely open;if and when they get the foodgrain stock, the price demandedby the shopkeepers is generally higher than the announcedprice, the grains are adulterated and of bad quality.

Gaikwad thought of a novel way to get around some of theshortcomings by giving families food in advance. Under the''home delivery'' scheme, BPL beneficiary families come togetherand demand three months ration in advance. People collectmoney and deposit in village itself with talathi/supplyinspector. Once this amount is paid, their quota of ration isdelivered by the government to their village. .

After the amount is deposited in block-level treasury, a tempo comes to the village and foodgrain sacks distributedon the basis of what has been paid to each family, in an openspace in front of all the beneficiary families.

Gaikwad''s project has been a hit with local self-helpgroups of women who collect the required amount, keep recordsof the collection, travel to the block office to pay, and arepresent during distribution to ensure proper allocation.

The new model has the potential to make rotting foodgrain in government godowns a thing of the past, the officialsaid. The system is also transparent as foodgrain distributiontakes place before the community and once distributed,independent agencies and NGOs can verify whether the grainsare properly utilised.

Gaikwad also served as registrar of the YashwantraoChavan Academy for Development Administration (Yashada) atPune.

Gaikwad made a presentation of his model before UnionAgriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and deputy chairman of thePlanning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia last year. "Theylauded the model as it did not incur any additional cost forthe smooth distribution of foodgrain," he said.

"The beneficiaries in rural areas now understand that thegovernment had kept this much foodgrain aside for eachfamily," Gaikwad said. The element of transparency is a boostas the entire village knows who are the beneficiaries as thefoodgrains are distributed in presence of everyone.

Also, stock from godowns gets shifted to families�houses, clearing up much-needed space there.

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