THE PDS CONUNDRUM
With the Government relying heavily on PDS to see implementation of the bill through, there are concerns about pilferage, corruption and loss of produce. As Ashok Gulati explains, “The current PDS system suffers from large leakages ( around 40 per cent); high operational costs; and high costs of labour at Food Corporation of India, all of which will rise. Only a fraction of the Government spend will reach the real needy. Time will test whether India can afford this inefficient system to deliver. The world has moved on, but India is stuck on this method.”
In states like Chhattisgarh, PDS is working like a charm, with the state government using IT to track movement of grain. It has also roped in village panchayats, cooperatives and women’s groups to raise efficiency, and cut down on bogus BPL cards on the basis of a brand new database.