Rajasthan gives face lift to 5000 PDS shops


Rajasthan gives face lift to 5000 PDS shops

Sandip Das
New Delhi, Oct 16:

The Rajasthan government’s project to give a facelift to 5,000-odd fair price shops in the state through collaboration with the country’s largest retailer Future group has ensured extra incomes for owners of these stores, besides providing villagers in remote areas access quality FMCG goods at lower prices.

According to Subodh Agarwal, principal secretary, food and civil supplies department, on an average,  people who run fair price shops have increased their monthly income by Rs 3,000 or about 45%  by selling around 150 to 300 FMCG products through their outlets renamed as Annapurna Bhandars. He said that the state government would extend the scheme to another 20,000 such shops in the next couple of years.
Earlier, the PDS stores in Rajasthan used to store only a limited number of products such as wheat, rice, sugar and kerosene. Most of the footfalls in these outlets used to be in the first 10 days of the month when families covered under National Food Security Act and other social sector schemes visit the outlets. The task of Vasundhara Raje government was to identify the outlets connected by roads and where the owner is willing to invest Rs 25,000-50,000 to refurbish the outlets .

Rajasthan selected Kishor Biyani’s Futures group was selected via tendering to supply non-perishable daily-use products – from salt to toothpaste – at discounted prices fixed by the Rajasthan State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation (RSFCSC). “We did not invite FMCG companies for these bids as we wanted to give rural consumers access to a wide range products sources from various companies as being done by Futures group,” Agarwal said.

The Rajasthan government had signed an tripartite agreement between the RSFCSC, Future Group and outlets owners where it has fixed prices of the commodities in a such a way that benefits of discounted prices is shared between outlets owners and consumers. The Future groups get access to a captive consumer base at these outlets; RSFCSC charges only 1% as service charges from the group which is used for promotional activities.

A state government official said that Annapurna Bhandars would been soon invited to operate as e-mitra, an e-governance initiative where various services provided by government and private sector is available under single roof.  “These outlets soon will be developed as common services centres where people can get access to various services offered by government and private sector,” the official said.

Meanwhile, various states governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka have made queries on the functioning of Annapurna Bhandars. Across the country, there are around 5.3 lakh PDS outlets serving around 80 crore population. Around 4.5 crore people in Rajasthan visit PDS outlets monthly.

(courtesy: The Financial Express)