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ePDS will ensure accountability in food-grains distribution: CM

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Mehbooba MuftiSTATE TIMES NEWS
Srinagar: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said implementation of Electronic Public Distribution System (ePDS) project would ensure transparency and accountability in food-grains distribution in the state.
“Manual processes related to PDS operations especially at the Fair Price Shops (FPS) level leads to diversions as it is difficult to monitor actual sale at this level in a transparent manner.
“The solution lies in ePDS through end to end computerization so as to have complete transparency and accountability in allocation of commodities to shops and tracking distribution against allocation,” Mehbooba said chairing a high level meeting to review the functioning of FCS&CA department and implementation of ePDS here.
The Chief Minister lauded the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs department for its performance in ensuring uninterrupted supply of ration to the consumers even during the difficult prevailing situation in the Kashmir.
She underscored the importance of Public Distribution System (PDS) in ensuring availability of food-grains to the public at affordable prices, enhancing the food security and serving as a safety net for the poor.
Briefing the meeting, Minister for Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali presented a comparative view of the old PDS and NFSA. He said under National Food Security Act (NFSA) around 1.20 crore people are being covered as against only 99 lakh under the old system. He said close to 75 lakh people out of the 1.20 crore are provided ration at Rs 2 and Rs 3 under PHH category.
The remaining 45 lakh people are provided ration at Rs 8 and Rs 10 under non-PHH category.
The Minister said after implementation of NFSA, the Government launched Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme (MMFSES) with effect from July 1 to supplement NFSA.
Under MMFSES, the State Government provides additional five Kgs of food-grains per soul over and above the NFSA scale to BPL, PHH and NPHH subject to maximum of 35 kgs per family.
The Minister enumerated some of the major steps taken by the department for bringing transparency and streamlining the entire food-grain distribution chain including issuance of fresh ration cards, digitization of data, sanctioning of 4388 new Fair Price Shops, introduction of electronic weighing scales.
The steps also included linking ration tickets with Aadhaar, tracking made mandatory through GPS installed on commodities transporting vehicles, toll free helpline no 1967, vigilance and monitoring committees constituted at village level to monitor distribution of food-grains and kerosene oil among others and quarterly issuance of food-grains.
A detailed presentation was also given during the meeting on the ePDS implementation in the State by the consultancy firm hired by the government, an official spokesman said.
The implementation of ePDS in the state will guarantee food security for the vulnerable and poor, deliver higher quality of services to citizens, accountability and traceability and entire management online, he said.
Various ePDS process models under implementation in states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh were analyzed, the spokesman added.

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