Nod to retail fast-moving consumer goods
An estimated 4 lakh ration card holders in the district will soon be able to draw their public distribution system (PDS) allocation from an authorised ration depot of their choice.
The scheme to be unveiled in April is part of a Food and Civil Supplies Department drive to encourage ration card holders from all sections of society to avail themselves of their PDS benefits without fail and consequently check illegal diversion of subsidised rice, kerosene, sugar, wheat and flour. The department will also give 1,000 odd ration shops in the district a new look, attach some of them to swanky State-run supermarkets and allow licensees to retail fast moving consumer goods, which are not covered by PDS.
Senior officials say Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob will soon write to Municipal Corporation and District Panchayat officials to allot land or buildings to start ‘common man’s no frills Maveli hotels’ in the district. The department will allot food grains, edible oil and pulses at subsidised rates to such hotels.
They say a set of errant ration retailers impeded accurate targeting of subsidy by using bogus cards (an estimated 11 lakh in the whole of the State) and fudging records to steal PDS articles in bulk quantities.
Officials say the sales records at several PDS retail outlets they inspected ‘curiously’ showed that 90 per cent of ration card holders had availed themselves of their quota of fuel and grain on the same day, which invariably fell at the end of every month when rationing inspectors routinely arrived to ‘verify’ stock.
PDS beneficiaries in the capital will be issued new ration cards embedded with their biometric information.
The government will install state-of-the-art ‘point of sale’ machines with iris and finger print scanners to biometrically verify the presence of the ration card holder, prior to the release of PDS commodities in his or her name.
The machines will be Internet linked to the department’s centralised data base to enable supply officers to monitor every retail transaction and verify the stock position at PDS depots and warehouses.