The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution has introduced a new scheme called the “Integrated Management of Public Distribution System” (IM-PDS) to integrate the existing PDS systems/portals of states and UTs with the central systems/portals. The scheme will also introduce national portability of ration cards to allow the users to get foodgrains from any fair price shop (FPS) across the country and keep a tabs on de-duplication of ration cards/beneficiary.

The scheme, which will be implemented during 2018-19 and 2019-20, was announced by Danve Raosaheb Dadarao, the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, in the Lok Sabha. The scheme is also aims to use advanced data analytics techniques to bring about continuous improvements.

What is public distribution system?

The public distribution system (PDS) is a central and state government system to tackle food scarcity through the distribution of foodgrains at affordable prices. The central government, through Food Corporation of India (FCI), is responsible for procurement, storage, transportation and bulk allocation of food grains to state governments. Meanwhile, state governments are responsible for allocation within the state, identification of eligible families, issue of ration cards and supervision of the functioning of Fair Price Shops (FPSs).

Schemes related to public distribution system

Apart from IM-PDS, some of the other public distribution related schemes are:

  • End-to-end computerisation of PDS Operations scheme: The Department of Food and Public Distribution, in association with all States and UTs, is implementing the scheme. It will be implemented on a cost-sharing basis with states and UTs under the XII Five Year Plan 2012-17.  The project, worth ₹884.07 crore, was extended by 1 year up to March 31, 2019. The expected outcome of their activities are:
    • Digitisation of beneficiary database: Enable correct identification of beneficiaries, remove bogus cards and better targeting of food subsidies;
    • Online allocation of foodgrains: System generated allocation of foodgrains to bring transparency;
    • Computerisation of supply chain management: This will ensure timely availability of foodgrains to intended beneficiaries at FPS and also keep a check on leakages;
    • Grievance redressal mechanism and transparency portals: Increase transparency and public accountability in the implementation of TPDS through transparency portals, online grievance registration and toll-free helpline numbers.
  • Assistance to state governments: According to the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the central government is required to provide assistance to state governments to meet the expenditure incurred by it on intra-state movement, handling of foodgrains and margins paid to fair price shop dealers, for distribution of foodgrains allocated for the entitled persons and households. The central provides 50:50 cost sharing in respect of general category states and 75% for North-Eastern or hilly or island states.
  • One-time assistance to state food commissions: The NFSA also states that the state governments will have to set up a state food commission for monitoring and review of the implementation of the Act. If the states decide to set up food commission exclusive basis, then the central government will provide one-time financial assistance for non-building assets under the Scheme on “Strengthening of PDS & Capacity Building, Quality Control, Consultancies & Research”. However, no assistance will be given for any construction activity or any recurring expenses.
  •  Awareness Scheme: The main objective to this is to set up an effective, sustained and intensive awareness campaign, whose impact can reach the urban as well as rural and remote areas.