Mumbai: A scheme to ensure home delivery of
food grains available under the public distribution system and
help the Maharashtra government save around Rs 200 crore per
year is awaiting the nod of the state cabinet.
The scheme, which began as a pilot project in Nashik
district, is presently being implemented in about 3,000
villages in 11 of the 35 districts in Maharashtra.
"The scheme is likely to come up before the cabinet in
the next few weeks, and would be implemented throughout the
state after the cabinet nod," an official said.
Under this model, foodgrain are distributed through PDS,
once in three months, six months or a year. This is in
contrast to the monthly distribution system, which is
expensive in terms of transportation and is also not effective
in clearing stocks.
The scheme is the brainchild of senior bureaucrat Shekhar
Gaikwad, now in the Chief Minister`s Office, who launched it
when he was Nashik`s Additional Collector.
Some glaring lacunae in the present PDS include food
grain not reaching the village; beneficiaries failing to
receive their monthly allotted quota; shops are rarely open;
if and when they get the food grain stock, the price demanded
by the shopkeepers is generally higher than the announced
price and the grains are adulterated and of bad quality.
Gaikwad thought of a novel way to get around some of the
shortcomings by giving families food in advance. Under the
`home delivery` scheme, BPL beneficiary families come together
and demand three months ration in advance. People collect
money and deposit in village itself with talathi/supply
inspector. Once this amount is paid, their quota of ration is
delivered by the government to their village.
After the amount is deposited in block-level treasury,
a tempo comes to the village and food grain sacks are
distributed on the basis of what has been paid to each family,
in an open space in front of all the beneficiary families.
Gaikwad`s project has been a hit with local self-help
groups of women who collect the required amount, keep records
of the collection, travel to the block office to pay, and are
present during distribution to ensure proper allocation.
The new model has the potential to make rotting food
grain in government godowns a thing of the past, the official
said. The system is also transparent as food grain
takes place before the community and once distributed,
independent agencies and NGOs can verify whether the grains
are properly utilised.
Gaikwad, who had made a presentation of his model before
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and deputy chairman of
the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia last year,
said they liked the model as it did not incur any additional
cost for the smooth distribution of food grain.
"The beneficiaries in rural areas now understand that the
government had kept this much food grain aside for each
family," Gaikwad said. The element of transparency is a boost
as the entire village knows who are the beneficiaries as the
food grains are distributed in presence of everyone.