States slow in installing electronic point of sale machines at PDS outlets
New Delhi, Sept 21:
Notwithstanding considerable progress in seeding of ration cards with unique identification numbers or aadhaar of the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) which had lead to weeding out of duplicate cards from the public distribution system, the government is now faced with a challenge of pursuing the states to install electronic point of sale (ePoS) machines at fair price shops (FPSs).
Sources www.indianagribusiness.com that while more than 64% of the 24 crore ration cards have been seeded with aadhaar, only 26% of FPSs have been equipped with ePoS machines which is meant to track the sale of foodgrains to actual cardholders on a real-time basis.
Only a handful of states — Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have completed installation of ePoS machines at PDS shops which have put curb on pilferage of foodgrains in the PDS. However the worrying part is that states with substantial number of poor people entitled for highly subsidised foodgrains under NFSA — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharahstra, Odisha and Telangana have not installed ePoS machines in most of their FPSs.
“We are pursuing states to install ePoS at all FPSs which would go a long way in curbing diversion of foodgrains from PDS and ensure beneficiaries get their subsidised grains on time,” an official said.
So far, 1.37 lakh FPSs or close to a quarter of such shops in the country have been ePoS-enabled. The target is have 3 lakh shops equipped with e-POS devices by March, 2017. With 100% of the states’ FPSs having e-POS, Andhra Pradesh has saved an estimated Rs 1,000 crore in food subsidy, a pointer to by how much DBT-Aadhaar and ePoS could together reduce the Centre’s subsidy bill.
According to the food ministry data, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Punjab, besides UTs Chandigarh and Andaman and Nicobar, have completed seeding of all the ration cards with Aadhaar.
States such as Kerala (95%), Haryana (89%), Jharkhand (91%), Maharashtra (87%) and Gujarat (74%) have also reported significant progress in terms of seeding of PDS beneficiaries’ cards with Aadhaar. Among the laggards, Bihar, which has 1.54 crore ration cards, still has only 9,000 cards seeded with Aadhaar. Similarly, Tamil Nadu with around two crore ration cards has only 18% of these cards linked with Aadhaar.
The Centre allocates 50-55 million tonnes of rice and wheat annually to implement national food security act.
Thanks to a pilot project to use the DBT platform for food subsidy, some 2.4 lakh households in Puducherry, Chandigarh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli already get the subsidy in their bank accounts.
The food subsidy in the current fiscal estimated at Rs 1.34 lakh crore, compared with Rs 1.24 lakh crore (revised estimate) for FY16.
The High Level Committee chaired by former food minister Shanta Kumar last year had recommends gradual introduction of cash transfers in PDS, starting with large cities with more than one million population and the extending it to grain surplus states, and then giving option to deficit states to opt for cash or physical grain distribution.
“This will be much more cost effective way to help the poor, without much distortion in the production basket, and in line with best international practices,” HLC had stated. According to HLC’s calculations, it could save the exchequer more than Rs 30,000 crores annually on food subsidy budget.
Installation of ePoS machines at the fair price shops
|No of FPSs||No of FPSs where ePoS machines installed||%|
|Andhra Pradesh||29.027||29, 027||100|
|Madhya Pradesh||22,401||22, 401||100|
|No of FPSs||No of FPSs where ePoS installed||%|
|Uttar Pradesh||77, 837||600||0.77|
Number of FPSs in the country: 5,28,464
ePoS machines installed: 1,37, 894 (26%)