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Distribution of PDS items not done properly: Paswan

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 13 � The Central government today said that it is aware of anomalies in the distribution of grains through the Public Distribution System, but is unable to act strongly as it is bound by the norms of federal structure.

�I agree that proper distribution (of PDS) is not done. But it depends on the State governments on how to improve the system. The Centre�s hands are tied. Under the federal system, some powers rest with the Centre and some with the State,� Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters here.

He, however, refused to directly point a finger on the Assam government in this regard. Paswan said that complaints regarding pilferage and black-marketing of PDS grains supplied by the Centre has come from many States, including his native State of Bihar.

Paswan was speaking to reporters after attending the two-day meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution held here in the city. The meeting was held in Guwahati keeping in mind the NDA government�s priority to give special focus to the North Eastern States.

The Minister also held a meeting with senior officials of the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway today to stress on early completion of the broad gauge conversion work in the Lumding-Silchar section.

Paswan said that the Centre is ready to give its go ahead for implementation of the National Food Security Act in Assam as soon as the State government completes work on digitization of beneficiaries.

Under the Act, 84 per cent of the rural population and over 60 per cent of the urban population of Assam would be covered and would be eligible for buying rice at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 per kg. The National Food Security Act will replace the earlier PDS and under it there will be no demarcation on the basis of APL, BPL or Antodaya Yojana beneficiaries� segments.

�The Central government will facilitate delivery of the subsidized grains, while the State government will take the grains from the FCI godowns and ensure their proper distribution. It will be totally computerized to ensure that there is no embezzlement. The Assam government has not done digitization of data. They have conveyed to us that the process will be done by June. As soon as it is ready, we will launch the scheme in Assam,� Paswan said.

He said the Centre is ready to help the North Eastern States by bearing 90 per cent of the expenditure for the digitization process.

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