ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Revival of Public Distribution System in Kerala

Kerala has achieved signifi cant milestones in the reform of the public distribution system through the implementation of the e-PDS project and the model pilot scheme of computerised ration shops. This case study of the new reforms provides insights on the effectiveness of the PDS and challenges ahead to facilitate direct cash transfer of the food subsidy notifi ed under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

The author is grateful to Krishna Reddy Chittedi and Silvia Masiero for their valuable insights.

The Government of Kerala (GoK) has been fast implementing the provisions of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 and identifying the eligible households. In Kerala, the renewal of existing ration cards coincided with the statutory provisions of the NFSA. As mandated in the NFSA, priority and non-priority ration cards will replace the below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL) cards, respectively. The NFSA has fixed a ceiling cap on the rural and urban population to be included in the priority list as 75% and 50%, respectively. Based on this, if Kerala had initiated taluk-wise ranking, a lot of eligible poor households would have been denied subsidised ration and other benefits. Statewise ranking of the beneficiaries is the only solution to avoid this. This was initiated by the new ministry in Kerala and, hence, the delay in the ration card renewal process.

The NFSA also stipulates the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) through the application of information and communication technology (ICT). The electronic public distribution system (e-PDS)1 project has been implemented by the Commissionerate of Civil Supplies, GoK with the help of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (MCAFPD) to computerise the entire public distribution system (PDS) with the introduction of electronic point of sale (e-PoS) at the authorised ration dealer (ARD), supply chain management from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to the ARD level, biometric authentication of retail and wholesale transactions, subsidy through direct cash transfer (DCT), hosting real-time data on a transparency portal, and provisioning for a decision support system rooted in a geographic information systems-based graphic user interface to ensure an effective, responsive, transparent, efficient and corruption-free PDS (GoK 2014a).

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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