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April 25, 2014

1000 days at glance: Food for all

1000 days at glance: Food for all

The Food and Supplies department under the West Bengal Government has been working hard for the last three years to increase the foodgrain procurement in the State as well as provide food for all. From reforming the Public Distribution System (PDS) to providing rice at nominal price to the socially and financially backward sections of the society, the Trinamool led West Bengal Government has worked for the people.

Zero-balance accounts have been opened in favour of the farmers who sell paddy to the government and government-appointed agents. They are being paid the selling price of paddy through account payee cheques.

A modern laboratory has been set up at Khadya Bhawan in Kolkata. This will ensure that rice, flour, wheat, edible oil and other food items distributed through the public distribution system (PDS) are of good quality.

Food for the poor: About 3.20 crore socially and financially backward people are being provided with rice at the rate of Rs 2 per kg. Some noteworthy regions/places whose people are getting the benefit of this initiative are:

  • Jangalmahal region (West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia)
  • Aila-affected region of the Sunderbans
  • Closed tea gardens
  • People from some endangered tribes such as Birhar, Lodha, Shabar
  • Unwilling peasants of Singur
  • Vagabonds of Kolkata
  • Seven tribal-dominated blocks in Birbhum district People from the Toto community are getting rice and wheat free of cost.

Greater procurement:

  • The quantity of rice procurement has exceeded 20.5 lakh MT during the kharif season of 2012-13, which is the highest ever in the last few couple of decades.
  • During the last-two-and-a-half years, warehouse capacity has been enhanced from 40,000 MT to 1.03 lakh MT for preservation of food grains. The work of constructing more warehouses, having a total capacity of 3 lakh MT, is going on in full swing.

New infrastructure:

  • New Khadya Bhawans have been constructed at eight places – Ghatal, Krishnanagar, Kalna, Cooch Behar, Barrackpore, Jalpaiguri, Mekhligunge and Bangaon.
  • Construction of Khadya Bhawans at 14 more places – Dinhata, Mathabhanga, Tehatta, Diamond Harbour, Barasat, Bankura, Howrah, Arambagh, Raghunathgunge, Bishnupur, Uluberia, Jhargram, Midnapore and Kashipur – is going on.
  • The proposal for construction of a 14 more Khadya Bhawans/Inspection Buildings – at Domkal, Egra, Tufangunge, Kurseong, Asansol, Contai, Burdwan, Lake Gardens (Kolkata), Mukutmanipur, Santiniketan, Meteli, Digha, Bidhannagar and at the headquarters of the Food and Supply Department in Kolkata – has been taken up.
  • In order to make the offices of the Food and Supplies Department in 115 blocks more popular, they are being modernised. Those in the rest of the blocks, which is 226, will start shortly.

Reforming the PDS:

  • The work of computerisation of PDS is going on at a cost of Rs 112 crore. Digitisation of ration cards and their entry into a database is under process. Till now, 4.35 crore digitised ration cards have been prepared. The remaining cards will be prepared by March 2014.
  • More than one crore forged and bogus ration cards have been revoked since May 2011. The government is providing a subsidy amounting to Rs 1000 crore in PDS for the benefit of poor people.
  • Non-PDS items have been made available in ration shops at fair prices for the benefit of the common people. A Retail Marketing Centre is going to be made operational in Kolkata.

Managing the distribution of foodgrains

  • To prevent smuggling of subsidised foodgrain, a transport system using vehicles having a special colour scheme has been introduced.
  • Important information relating to the distribution of foodgrains through public distribution system is being disseminated regularly to people's representatives and local inhabitants through SMS.