PDS in India
- Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, about 81 crore persons are entitled to buy subsidized foodgrain — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Re 1/kg — from their designated Fair Price Shops (FPS) of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
- PDS is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and the State Governments.
- The Central Government, through Food Corporation of India (FCI), has assumed the responsibility for procurement, storage, transportation and bulk allocation of food grains to the State Governments.
- The operational responsibilities including allocation within the State, identification of eligible families, issue of Ration Cards and supervision of the functioning of Fair Price Shops (FPSs) etc., rests with the State Governments.
What is the one ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system?
- Earlier, a ration cardholder can buy food grains only from an FPS that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives.
- However, under the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system, the beneficiary will be able to buy subsidised foodgrains from any FPS across the country.
- The biggest beneficiaries will be migrant workers who move to other states to seek better job opportunities.
How will the system of ration card portability work?
- Ration card portability is aimed at providing intra-state as well as inter-state portability of ration cards.
- The new system, based on a technological solution, will identify a beneficiary through biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices installed at the FPSs, and enable that person to purchase the quantity of foodgrains to which she is entitled under the NFSA.
- While the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) portal (http://www.impds.nic.in/) provides the technological platform for the inter-state portability of ration cards, enabling a migrant worker to buy foodgrains from any FPS across the country, the other portal (annavitran.nic.in) hosts the data of distribution of foodgrains through E-PoS devices within a state.
- Once the ‘one nation one ration card’ system takes effect in a given state, the beneficiary family can purchase food grains from different locations. For example, a migrant worker staying in a different state can buy his or her share of the subsidized food grains from any FPS in the state where they work while the remaining family members will be able to buy their quota of the supplies back at home.
Since when has the One Nation, One Ration Card System been in the works?
- Work on this ambitious project started about two years back when the government launched a scheme called Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) in April 2018 to reform the public distribution system in the country.
- The PDS system was marred with inefficiency leading to leakages in the system. To plug the leakages and make the system better, the government started the reform process.
- For this purpose, it used a technological solution involving the use of Aadhaar to identify beneficiaries. Under the scheme, the seeding of ration cards with Aadhaar is being done.
- Simultaneously, PoS machines are being installed at all FPSs across the country. Once 100 per cent of Aadhaar seeding and 100 per cent installation of PoS devices is achieved, the national portability of ration cards will become a reality.
Why in News?
- ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme makes food security portable and is tailor-made for migrant labourers, the government told the Supreme Court recently.
- The court had asked the government to detail its schemes to provide food to migrant workers hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Despite the multitude of COVID-19 related challenges in the past year, a total of 32 States/UTs covering around 69 crore NFSA beneficiaries, i.e. 86% NFSA population in the country, were swiftly brought under the ONORC plan by December 2020.