Cabinet okays replacement of atta-dal scheme blue cards with smart cards

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Chandigarh: The Punjab Cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Friday approved replacement of the blue cards under the Atta Dal scheme with new smart cards, while giving the go-ahead to engaging three Government of India PSUs for the computerization of the state’s Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

The Cabinet decided on these measures to ensure that the benefits of its PDS system and the Attal-Dal schemes reach the right beneficiaries in a smooth manner.

The Cabinet decided to engage Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Broadcasting Engineering Consultants Indian Ltd. (BECIL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) for implementing the work of computerization of TPDS in the state after successful pilot project following a proper price discovery mechanism.

Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s office said that Government of India made the benefits available under the TPDS a legal right by implementing the National Food Security Act-2013. The New Atta Dal scheme being run by the State government was brought under the ambit of the above Act. As per the orders of the State government, the New Atta Dal Scheme has been renamed as Smart Ration Card Scheme.

The state government procures the Wheat needed for the above scheme under the De-Centralized Procurement (DCP) scheme and the same is stored at 269 dedicated DCP godowns and is distributed through 16738 Fair Price Shops (FPS) under its bi-annual distribution model with the approval of Government of India to the beneficiaries in 30 kg sealed bags at the rate of Rs.2 per kg twice a year. The priority household category beneficiaries get 5 kg wheat per month whereas the Anna Antodaya Yojna category families get 35 kg wheat per month. The state government distributes 8.70 lac MT wheat annually.

To ensure transparency and efficiency in the distribution of foodgrains under the NFSA, the Government of India has directed to implement End to End Computerization of TPDS, automation of FPS and Supply Chain Management as per the directions of Supreme Court of India.

The details of the beneficiaries and other keynotes of the Supply Chain have been digitized and all the Ration Cards have been seeded with Aadhaar Numbers which have also been validated. The details of the same are available on the transparency portal (http://foodsuppb.nic.in) of the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Punjab. As per the orders of state government, the re-verification of beneficiaries of this scheme has been entrusted to the Deputy Commissioners of all the districts in the state. During the computerization of supply chain, e-PoS (Electronic Point of Sale) machines would be deployed at various purchase centers, DCP godowns and FPS in the state.

These e-PoS machines would be used for Bio-Metric Aadhaar based identification of beneficiaries and these machines would be linked with the weighting machines and IRIS scanners. The allocation of foodgrains would be done online. The department has already established 3 TIER Grievance Redressal Mechanism- Internal, External and through State Food Commission for redressal of grievances of the beneficiaries.

A toll free helpline has also been established on 1800-3006-1313. As per the orders of the GoI, the state government has constituted State Apex Committee (SAC) and State Project E-Mission Team (SPeMT). The Government of India has released Rs.7.79 crores as the first instalment of the financial aid for this scheme which is available with Finance department, Punjab. The state government has made a provision of Rs.5 crore in the current budget for End to End Computerization of TPDS Operations against its 50% share.

The digitization of beneficiary details would aid in identification and elimination of bogus ration cards and better targeting of the subsidies. The hosting of beneficiary data on the transparency portal and Social Audit would ensure better accountability of the working FPS. The computerization of supply Chain would help in better tracking of movement of foodgrains from Mandis to DCP godowns and from DCP godowns to FPs, which would aid in reduction of leakages and diversion of foodgrains.

To lift the wheat from DCP godowns, the ration depot holder has to deposit the Central Issue Price of wheat at the rate of Rs. 2 per kg in advance with the state Government. After the distribution of foodgrains is over, the FPS owners are paid commission as per the provision s of the NFSA. The FPS owners would be appointed as mini contractors for loading unloading and transportation of wheat from DCP godowns to FPS and they would be paid at the rates which would be standardized across the State of Punjab.

This would enable submission of claims with the Government of India in a standardized and better way. This would also strengthen their hands economically and improve the efficiency of the operations as the dependency on the regular labor/transport contractors would be reduced. It would also take care of the persistent demand of Inspectors that they have to bear the hassle of arrangement for Loading, Unloading and Transportation of NFSA Wheat.

As stated earlier, 8.70 lac MT wheat is distributed annually in the state of Punjab under TPDS. The Government of India has offered additional margin of Rs. 17 per quintal on distribution of wheat through e-PoS machines after computerization of TPDS, the financial burden of which would be shared between Central and State Governments on 50-50 basis. Thus an additional margin of Rs. 14.79 crores would be received, out of which the State Government have to pay Rs. 7.395 crores as its 50 percent share on annual basis.

Apart from the above the Government of India has also made provision of Rs. 25.96 crores as a onetime grant for the above scheme in financial year 2017-18, out of which the State Government would have to pay Rs. 12.98 crore as its 50 percent share. As such the state government would have to mandatorily release Rs. 20.38 crore in financial year 2017-18 for compulsory computerisation of TPDS as per the orders of Supreme Court and Government of India. The State Government would have to mandatorily release Rs. 7.395 crores every year to claim additional margin from the Government of India.