July 3, 2018
Food Minister Ramvilas Paswan has asked all the states closely monitor prices of perishable commodities, which tend to rise during the July-November period and ensure doorstep delivery of foodgrains to PDS beneficiaries (Public Distribution System). Indian food security system, established by the Government of India under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution is to distribute subsidized food and non-food items to India’s poor, in order to put end to starvation deaths.
Taking strong exemption to reports of starvation deaths in some states like Jharkhand, Paswan said that while the reason for such deaths is being investigated, states should ensure grains reach the destitute right at their doorstep or get in writing from beneficiaries the identity of the persons who would collect the grains on their behalf.
The matter was taken up and discussed in detail with 15 state food ministers and senior officials from the central and state governments in a meeting at New Delhi.
“We have given guidelines to all states to ensure there are no starvation deaths because of non-delivery of PDS grains. As a precautionary measure, we have asked states to provide for doorstep delivery of subsidized grains,” Paswan told reporters after the meeting.
He added that state governments should keep a watch on beneficiaries who aren’t lifting their ration for the past three consecutive months. “It is possible such beneficiary is rich and does not require the grains, in which case the ration card can be cancelled. It is also possible that old and physically disabled beneficiaries are not able to visit the ration shop. In such cases, we need to deliver the rations at home,” Paswan said.
The minister also said that the subsidy rate at which foodgrains are supplied through ration shops has not been revised since the food law was rolled out in July 2013. PDS rates have been kept unchanged for rice at Rs. 3/kg, wheat at Rs. 2/kg and coarse grains at Rs. 1/kg.
On price of perishable commodities, Paswan asked the states to set up state-level price stabilization fund (PSF), similar to the one the central government has, to help regulate price instability of key agri-horticultural produce like onion, potatoes and pulses.
Meanwhile, vegetable prices are on rise in some parts of the country, with tomato being sold at Rs. 50-70 a kg in the Capital. Potato and onion sold at Rs. 30 per kg each here, as per the trade data.
Normally, prices of perishables go up during monsoon because of crop damage, lack of storage and transportation hurdles.