Ration card portability has been mooted for empowering customers and streamlining the sale of ration entitlements through retail outlets across the State.
A commission headed by Additional Chief Secretary Nivedita P.Haran, which was designated by the government for evaluating the impact of computerising the public distribution system and the steps to be initiated for improving its transparency and efficacy, is learnt to have mooted portability across the retail outlets for leveraging the customers and promoting a healthy competition among the dealers.
On giving the freedom of choice to the consumers for selecting the shops, the dealers will automatically be motivated to compete with each other for providing better service.
A flexible system should be worked out for accommodating customers like the ailing and infirm who cannot personally visit the shops. Since the physically-challenged and the senior citizens are unable to go to the shops directly, they should be permitted to claim their ration entitlement through proxy. At the same time, the commission has stressed the need for plugging the misuse of the facility.
The commissioner of civil supplies should ensure that the consumer has the right to choice, information, quality and timely delivery and a right for redressal of complaint with feedback. Strict compliance with timely delivery of quality food grains should be ensured.
The retail outlets should function as the local ‘corner shop.’
In order to increase the viability of the retail outlets, the commission has proposed to permit them to sell other fast moving consumables too.
A toll-free helpline and grievance redressal mechanism has been suggested for improving the accountability of the system. The system should assign a unique identity to every complaint or grievance and the cases should be relentlessly pursued till they are resolved. The commissionerate should have an information technology division with extensive field footprint to expeditiously carry out such tasks.
A continuous social audit mechanism structured on a standard survey and query format that could also be accessed online should be incorporated. Standard reports on the functioning of the PDS should be organised and it should be made available for open scrutiny to all stakeholders.
A performance assessment module accessible to all concerned ranging from the district administration to the local panchayat office should be developed for increasing its transparency.
The commission is learnt to have exuded the confidence for completing the first phase of computerisation within six months once the process is launched.