Tamil Nadu

PDS in Tamil Nadu registers a perceptible fall in grain utilisation

Tamil Nadu, known for drawing grain over and above its entitlement, recorded a perceptible fall during 2021-22 under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for the public distribution system (PDS).

Compared with its quota of 36.78 lakh tonnes for the year, the State used only 29.46 lakh tonnes. The drop accounts for about 2.2 months’ quota of rice. On an average, the State requires 3.2 lakh tonnes of rice every month. In monetary terms, the fall in the utilisation means the saving of about ₹2,633 crore, if one is to go by the economic cost of ₹35,971.7 per tonne as worked out by the Department of Food and Public Distribution at the Centre.

In respect of Tamil Nadu, the annual grain allocation under the NFSA includes 3.68 lakh tonnes of wheat and around 33.1 lakh tonnes of rice. During 2021-22, the drawal of wheat was 3.28 lakh tonnes and of rice 26.18 lakh tonnes.

An official of the Food and Civil Supplies Department says, “Perhaps, the State is witnessing a correction...” The intensive implementation of biometric authentication could be yielding its results, the official explains.

During 2020-21, which marked the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State had drawn around 35.36 lakh tonnes of grain from the Central pool. This was about 96% of the allocation, but there was no vigorous enforcement of biometric fingerprint scanning.

Concurring with the view of the official, T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist and member of the State government’s price monitoring committee, calls for improving the system so that the fruits of the universal PDS reach the genuine beneficiaries.

There are other reasons for the fall in the utilisation. On account of the second wave of COVID-19, there was a marked hesitation on the part of people to go to fair price shops. There was a tendency to avoid consuming rice too. Migration had also contributed to the reduction, Mr. Sadagopan says.

However, there were more takers for the special grain allotment for the State over and above the quota under the NFSA. Against the allotment of about 20 lakh tonnes, around 19.2 lakh tonnes was drawn. The special allotment, also called the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), was meant for priority households and Antyodaya Anna Yojana card-holders, who were given 5 kg each every month. Though the special allotment scheme had a provision for those not covered under the NFSA, no allotment was made to the State last year.

Meanwhile, the Centre has informed the State government that for the next six months (May-October), the monthly allocation under the PMGKAY will have only rice instead of rice and wheat. Consequently, the monthly allotment to the State has been revised to about 1.83 lakh tonnes of rice. Earlier, wheat accounted for about 10% of the monthly grain allotment.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2022 3:34:07 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/pds-in-tamil-nadu-registers-a-perceptible-fall-in-grain-utilisation/article65420287.ece