| Ram Vilas Paswan in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Union minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan will organise a seminar at SK Memorial Hall on July 6 with an aim to strengthen the public distribution system in his home state.
Paswan has also invited people and farmers who are largely affected by the public distribution system to participate in the seminar so that there is a three-way dialogue between public distribution officials, shops owner, farmers and people.
Paswan said: “This is for the first time that such a conference will be held in Bihar. There are still discrepancies in the PDS in the state.”
Attacking the state government for poor food procurement and PDS in the state, the Union minister stated that Bihar had failed to procure foodgrain from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns or distribute them among the poor and needy beneficiaries for the past three months causing much hardship to the consumers.
Based on the feedback gathered in the seminar from farmers, PDS owners and officials the Union government will implement some of the suggestions.
However, Paswan’s counterpart in Bihar, food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak raised the logic for organising the seminar. Rajak said: “The Union minister has called a meeting of PDS, but PDS is state subject.” In Bihar, there are around 45,000 PDS shops.
Rajak refuted the allegations that PDS in Bihar is not functioning properly claiming that Bihar is the first state to introduce online e-PDS system under which foodgrain is directly delivered from godown to PDS shop removing the role of dealer in the grains distribution.
The Union minister, before holding the seminar, is also going to visit Madhya Pradesh to learn successful implementation of PDS system by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government on June 29. The public distribution system in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is better due to the respective state governments initiating various measures to strengthened PDS system.
Sources said to strengthen and bring transparency in the PDS, the Union government is also planning to evolve a national policy for the quick and fair distribution of foodgrain among the beneficiaries across the country.
To bring more transparency in the PDS, the food and civil supplies ministry is also planning to set up a grievance cell in New Delhi to receive complaints from the needy people of any state in case of not receiving their quota on time. “The grievance cell will have a separate number on which the poor and needy consumers could register their complaints if they faced any kind of problem in getting their monthly quota of foodgrain,” said Paswan.