In its visits to about 10 to 12 States across the country so far, the Central Vigilance Committee on Public Distribution System (PDS), constituted under the order of the Supreme Court, has received complaints mainly about improper working of the PDS and diversion of foodgrains into the black market.
The committee, under the chairmanship of Justice D.P. Wadhwa, former judge of Supreme Court, conducted a public hearing in Puducherry on Tuesday. It has been formed to look into anomalies affecting the proper functioning of the PDS by conducting State-wise public hearings and suggesting remedial measures.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Mr. Wadhwa said that common complaints received in all States visited so far were on the improper working of PDS. “This apart, there were complaints on diversion of foodgrains into the black market and real beneficiaries not getting their due,” he said.
In Puducherry, he said, the complaints were mainly on distribution system, transportation of commodities, exclusion and inclusion errors pertaining to families living below the poverty line (BPL) and above the poverty line.
“We will be submitting the recommendations to the Supreme Court by June 30. We will be giving State-wise recommendations,” he said.
However, Mr. Wadhwa said that while the Union government had fixed the population of BPL families in the country, all the States were showing a higher BPL population.
“The State governments had more BPL families than fixed by the Centre. Each family should get 35 kg of rice but were getting only about 20 to 25 kg as a result of this increased number,” he said.
Many participants, including general public, representatives from consumer organisations and non-government organisations, complained of poor quality of rice supplied by fair price shops and irregularities in issuing red ration cards.
One of the participants, Krishnaraju, said that many consumers in Puducherry were not using the double boiled rice supplied by the civil supplies department and put forth the need to distribute single boiled rice.
Suggestions to instal complaint boxes at fair price shops, allow self-help groups to run the shops and set up local godowns were put forward to the committee.
To a question from Mr. Wadhwa on whether the free rice launched by the government was regularly supplied, the participants answered in the negative and said that they were being told that there was no rice.
Complaints on bogus ration cards and persons possessing double rations cards in both Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, demand for enumeration of red ration card holders and posting of information on the Internet were also raised on the occasion.
Another participant, L.P. Ravi, said facilities at the ration shops should be improved by providing proper seating, waiting rooms, water and toilet facilities. The commodities should be packed to avoid complaints about quantity. “The ration shops should be computerised,” he said.