A majority of the people and households covered in a recent State-wide survey on the functioning of public distribution system (PDS) are reported to be dissatisfied with the items and quantity supplied under the present ration scheme. A large number of below poverty line families are forced to purchase cereals from open market.
While 79.91 per cent of the 851 respondents said they were not satisfied with the PDS, 71 per cent said the poor were deprived of the BPL status and the PDS facility should be available to everyone. Against the average demand for 50 kg of food grains in a family, only half of this is available through the PDS.
The Rajasthan Rozi Roti Abhiyan undertook the survey in 12 districts in June in association with other non-government organisations to highlight socio-economic conditions of PDS beneficiaries, impact of changes carried out in the PDS since May last year and awareness and perceptions of the recipients of commodities supplied through the system.
Ashok Khandelwal, advisor to the Supreme Court's Commissioner in the right to food case, said here on Saturday that the survey had found a strong demand emerging from various quarters for supply of pulses and edible oil, in addition to cereals, sugar and kerosene, under the PDS. People also want universalisation of PDS, with 51.34 per cent of the respondents saying that not providing ration to everyone affects the poor.
There is an emphatic no to the cash payment in lieu of wheat and flour in place of food grains. The findings of the survey relate to seven districts – Jaipur, Kota, Bikaner, Dungarpur, Udaipur, Pratapgarh and Rajsamand – while the data of five other districts is yet to be tabulated. Mr. Khandelwal said the survey report was based on the statistics relating to 952 families and covering a total of 48 localities.
While affirming that the PDS could play a significant role in ensuring food security for the poor and destitute families, he said though most of the families covered in the survey reported that they did not sleep with an empty stomach, they also said they were deprived of an adequate and proper diet.
Over 60 per cent of the respondents reported one or the other kind of difficulties in getting ration from fair price shops and overcharging appeared to be the major problem. Other problems included not getting full ration and the PDS beneficiaries being forced to make several visits to shops. BPL families in Banswara are reportedly getting only 18 kg to 23 kg of foodgrains.
Mr. Khandelwal pointed out that the percentage of families which considered the PDS extremely important in relation to their food security was more than the total number of BPL families.