SHILLONG, April 3 - Meghalaya today launched its first automated fair price shops as a pilot project to check rampant pilferage of foodgrains under the public Distribution System (PDS).
In the first phase of the pilot project, ten such shops were selected in the State capital through installation of electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices.
The ePoS will record the sale of subsidised foodgrains to beneficiaries. The system will also generate an electronic slip mentioning the details of the beneficiaries, price and quantity of rations delivered.
The Director of Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, IR Sangma, said the pilot project is an initiative of the Central Government. The main objective of the project is to reduce leakage and diversion of commodities.
�The initiative will ensure distribution of rations to real beneficiaries under the Food Security Act in a transparent manner,� Sangma said.
The State Government had not been able to implement the automation of the fair price shops. Although the DPR for automation in the State was sent way back in 2011-12, the State Government put the blame on the dealers for non-implementation.
�The Deputy Commissioners received very poor response in terms of applicants after they floated advertisements for taking up new wholesale dealership licences�Many (prospective wholesalers) perhaps are not forthcoming, knowing that there would be little room for manipulation after the system is computerised,� Sangma said.
All these years there have been constant complaints of leakages of PDS items throughout the State and in some cases, the beneficiaries were outrightly denied their right to foodgrains. New licenses are issued under the Meghalaya PDS Control Order, 2011. At present there are over 270 wholesalers in the State. Barring the South Garo Hills, the State has FCI warehouses in each district of the State.
Under the new system of electronic surveillance of PDS, control rooms will be set up in respective Deputy Commissioners� offices in all the districts. These control rooms will closely monitor the stock in the FCI godowns, wholesalers picking up the items and distributing them to the fair price shops and subsequently delivery to beneficiaries through the digitalised network.