First preference to KFCSC, gram panchayats, societies

Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao on Monday said new fair price distribution shops will be opened across the State to address the growing complaints of uneven distribution of customers among shops..

The Minister was responding to a question in the Legislative Council by Bhanuprakash (BJP). Opening of new shops is part of the department’s efforts to streamline the Public Distribution System (PDS), along with the issue of biometric-based ration cards and biometric-based PDS distribution.

While giving licence to retail fair price shops, he said preference would be given to State-owned Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Corporation (KFCSC), gram panchayats, societies and stree shakti sanghas, the Minister said. Mr. Bhanuprakash said there are about 99 lakh ration cardholders eligible to get PDS under subsidised rates and only 20,399 PDS shops.

Each shop has to cater to an average of 4,000 cards and customers are put to difficulty.

Answering a query on diversion of rice meant for APL families to the State government’s Anna Bhagya scheme (Re. 1 a kg of rice), Mr. Rao said once the Food Security Bill of the Centre is in place, there will not be APL or BPL categories. There would be only ‘included’ and ‘excluded’ categories. The government intends to cover 75 per cent of the families under the PDS.

The Central scheme, which identifies about 70 lakh families in the ‘included’ category instead of the present 31.29 lakh families, would be beneficial to the State, he argued. The State government’s decision to divert rice meant for APL families to BPL families is final and cannot be changed, he said.

Responding to another related question of Lehar Singh Siroya (BJP) asked in his absence by Ganesh Karnik (BJP), Mr. Rao admitted that the number of ration cards in existence were in excess of number of families in the State.

About 70 lakh cards are due for renewal during which the biometric system would help identify bogus beneficiaries. Also, complete enforcement of biometric system for PDS delivery too will help spot bogus cards, he said.

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