Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

Addressing the Leakages in PDS in the light of PMGKAY

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PMGKY

Mains level : PMGKY, food security and Issues with PDS

PMGKAY

Context

  • The government of India extended Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), a scheme to distribute free food grains to the poor, for another three months. However, issues of food grain leakages remains unaddressed.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)

  • PM-GKAY: Launched during COVID-19 crisis to provided food security to the poor, needy and the vulnerable households/beneficiaries so that they do not suffer on account of non-availability of adequate foodgrains. Under PMGKAY, effectively it has doubled the quantity of monthly foodgrains entitlements being normally delivered to beneficiaries.
  • Benefits: Under PMGKAY welfare scheme, 5 kg of food grain per person per month is provided free of cost for all the beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) including those covered under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
  • Financial Expenditure: Financial implication for the Government of India has been about 3.45 Lakh Crore for Phase-VI of PMGKAY. With the additional expenditure of about Rs. 44,762 Crore for Phase-VII of this scheme, the overall expenditure of PMGKAY will be about Rs. 3.91 lakh crore for all the phases.
  • Grain Allotment: The total outgo in terms of food grains for PMGKAY Phase VII is likely to be about 122 LMT. Food grain for phases I- VII is about 1121 LMT.
  • Implementation: PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) has been implemented in the following phases –
  1. Phase I and II (8 months): April’20 to Nov.’20
  2. Phase-III to V (11 months): May’21 to March’22
  3. Phase-VI (6 months): April’22 to Sept.’22

PMGKAY

Impact of the PMGKY scheme

  • Ensuring food security and public health: Policymakers and experts concede that the scheme made a difference to food security and public health during the pandemic.
  • IMF commended the scheme: Be it the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food and Public Distribution or the authors of an IMF-published working paper, “Pandemic, Poverty, and Inequality: Evidence from India” (April 2022), the scheme has received commendation.
  • Absorbing the shock in the pandemic: The working paper concluded that “the social safety net provided by the expansion of India’s food subsidy program absorbed a major part of the pandemic shock.”

Why the experts are suggesting the study of PMGKY?

  • Rationalizing the budget: To keep the budgetary allocation under control, rules on quota for rice or wheat can be changed suitably.
  • Checking the diversion of Funds: While it is all right to provide foodgrains free during the pandemic, the central and State authorities need to ponder over the scheme’s continuance, given the chronic problem of diversion from the Public Distribution System (PDS).
  • Combing the Centre and state subsidy: In many States, including West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka, the 50 kg is free. In Tamil Nadu, for over 10 years, rice-drawing card holders have been getting rice free.

PMGKAY

How the transparent study of PMGKY will help in leakage detection?

  • Updating the database of beneficiary: Study should be the basis for updating the database of foodgrain-drawing card holders, scrutinising the data critically and zeroing in on the needy.
  • Automation of PDS: The task should not be onerous, given the widespread application of technological tools in the PDS such as Aadhaar, automation of fair price shops and capturing of the biometric data of beneficiaries.
  • Estimation of PHH: Using this database, the Centre and States can decide whether the size of the Priority Households (PHH) nearly 71 crores, can be pruned or not.
  • Reasonable price to avoid freebies culture: In addition, if they feel the need to go beyond the mandate of the NFSA, as is being done under the PMGKAY, they can supply the foodgrains at a reasonable price. The culture of providing essential commodities free of cost at the drop of a hat has to go.

Conclusion

  • PMGKY has helped the needy in people in the dark period of pandemic. However, with good intention of government food grain leakages of PDS couldn’t be stopped. Transparent study of will certainly help in leakage detection and more targeted delivery.

Mains Question

Q. Schemes of food security are always with good intentions; However, lack of transparency and leakages disturbs targeted delivery. Discuss the measures to ensure the last mile delivery of food grains.

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