To ensure proper distribution and access of essential food, the State Government’s Food & Supplies (F&S) Department has brought about end-to end reforms in the management of the public distribution system (PDS).
The public distribution system consists of the public distribution outlets (PDO), which are basically fair-price shops (FPS) and are commonly known as ration shops.
TPDS through use of ICT
Essentially, PDS has been changed to TPDS, that is, targeted public distribution system. A major reform in this regard has been the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the management of the TPDS.
- Creation of electronic databank of all the stakeholders of the PDS
- Online allocation of foodgrains up to the FPS levels
- Doorstep delivery by distributors to dealers
- SMS-based information to the FPS-wise registered mobile users regarding allocation and availability of foodgrains
Other uses of ICT in the PDS
Other aspects of the use of ICT include:
- Complete online supply chain management
- Call centre-based public grievance redressal system including voice recording mechanism
- Online renewal of license for more than 21,000 FPS dealers and distributors, 31,000 superior kerosene oil dealers and agents, and, 10,000 licensees of other petroleum products like LPG, lubricating oil, petrol pumps, etc.
- Integrated online MIS generation from the level of sub-divisional controller of Food & Supplies (SCF&S) and upwards
- Publication of new PDS control orders and modified control orders for the distribution of foodgrains in tea gardens through government outlets have been completed
Another major achievement has been the completion of digitisation of 8.59 crore ration card data as on January 31, 2015 and the completion of online supply chain management for the distribution of foodgrains.
Awareness generation regarding PDS
- The Food & Supplies Department has also undertaken a massive drive for public awareness generation for people’s entitlement through TPDS
- Regular publicity through audio spots on All India Radio, display of banners, publicity by miking and through skits by local artistes in gram panchayats and municipalities is creating improved awareness among the people
- Advertisement through print as well as electronic media is being done at regular intervals
- A monthly periodical named Sanbadnama is being published by the department.
- Since 2016, January 27 is being observed as Khadya Sathi Dibas
Toll-free grievance redressal system
- A 12×7 call centre (that is, 12 hours a day on all days of the week) equipped with call resource management and document management system has been set up
- Anyone can get information or lodge complaints using the toll-free helpline numbers – 18003455505 and 1967
- People can also track the status of grievance redressal online through the portal of the F&S Department
- In all districts, an additional district magistrate has been designated as the district grievance redressal officer to address PDS-related complaints
Budgetary outlay apropos PDS increased
For achieving the above goals, the Trinamool Congress Government has increased the budgetary outlay manifold during its period in power.
Whereas in FY 2010-11, the total outlay for PDS was only Rs 2,199 crore, that in FY 2018-19 was Rs 8,037 crore, an increase by more than 3.6 times.
Hence, it can be said that Bangla’s public distribution system, the lifeline of the foodgrain supply scheme of the government, has improved hugely. Work is constantly going on to streamline the system of distribution as well as that of solving any issue that may arise.