SC appoints bureaucrat to monitor PDS

Last Updated: Friday, February 3, 2012 - 21:23

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday nominated
a secretary-level officer in the Centre to monitor the
effective implementation of government`s food programme for
the poor as a report suggested that computerisation of the
entire Public Distribution System to stop pilferage and
corruption has not made "substantial" progress.

The apex court appointed Secretary, Ministry of Consumer
Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, to cordinate with
states and union territries for distribution of foodgrains
under the targeted PDS which is a massive operation undertaken
by the government to provide food to poor in the country.

A bench comprisimg justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak
Misra said the report of the justice D P Wadhwa committee,
which has been examining the working of PDS, has categorically
said "no substantial work" on digitilisation and
computerisation of PDS has taken place and bogus ration cards
are being made.

It said that for achieving the target, the secretary will
be cordinating with state governments and union territories as
it has been suggested that the union government was not
getting the adequate support from them.

The bench said the committee had in January visited
Satara district in Maharashtra and found that the
digitilisation of PDS programme was being carried without
verifying the forms and as a result bogus ration cards were in
circulation.

It said since the computerisation programme was
"extremely" slow, or in some instances "non-existent", there
was a need for cooperation between the Centre and state
governments.

The bench said the secretary will file fortnightly report
to the apex court on the implementation of the programme and
the next report will be placed by him before March 12 so that
the hearing could take place on March 15.

Meanwhile, the Minsitry of Consumer Affairs, Food and
Public Distribution submitted an affidavit before the bench
on the steps taken by it to follow the earlier orders of the
apex court regarding allocation of five million metric tonnes
of additional foodgrain to 150 poorest districts.

It said the Wadhwa Committee has identified 174 poorest
districts and in accordance with its recommedations the
minsitry has so far made additional allocations amounting to
23.68 lakh tonnes of foodgrains with the approval of competent
authority.

The affidavit said he Central Vigilance Committee headed
by Justice Wadhwa has devised a scheme of community kitchen
for providing cooked meals to the poor living at places like
city hospitals and bus stops at nominal cost or free with the
help of corporates and Public Sector Units under their
Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) programme.

It, however, regretted the committe had received a
"poor" response from various ministries on the proposal of
community kitchen with the help of CSR programme.

"The CVC addressed letters to secretaries of various
Ministries of Government of India to motivate the corporations
working under their control to participate in this endeavour.

"As per information received from CVC, the response from
the ministries has been very poor. Only Ministry of Steel has
intimated that the matter is being examined and the decision
taken in this regard will be intimated shortly," the affidavit
said.

The affidavit also stated that a proposal to allocate
1227.4 quintals of foodgrans per month for one year at AAY
prices for the community kitchen scheme as per the
recommendations of CVC has been submitted for approval of
competent authority.

The apex court had on September 14 last year observed
that no one in the country should die of starvation and
malnutrition and it is the responsibility of the government to
provide food to the poor and asked all states to specify how
much additional foodgrains under PDS are needed to meet the
objective.

The bench passed the order while dealing with a PIL filed
by Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) complaining about
large-scale corruption and irregularities in the PDS
mechanism.

The apex court had earlier said all states should emulate
the PDS model adopted by Tamil Nadu which has been supplying
rice at Rs 1 per kg and subsidised fortified atta and pulses
to BPL families without much hassles and complaint of
pilferage and misappropriation.

It had directed the Centre to allocate additional five
million tonnes of foodgrains to the 150 poorest districts
under the supervision of a committee appointed by it.

PTI



First Published: Friday, February 3, 2012 - 21:23

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