Question No.1 : What is the Targeted Public Distribution System? What are the various entitlements being given under the scheme?

Answer : In June 1997, the Government of India launched the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) with focus on the poor.

2.         TPDS is operated under the joint responsibility of Central Government and State/Union Territory (UT) Governments. The Central Government is responsible for procurement, allocation and transportation of foodgrains upto the designated depots of the Food Corporation of India. The operational responsibilities for lifting and distributing the allocated foodgrains within the States/UTs, identification of eligible Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, issuance of ration cards to them and supervision over distribution of allocated foodgrains to eligible card holders through the fair price shops are that of the State/UT Governments.

3.         Government of India has been making allocations of foodgrains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) on the basis of 1993-94 poverty estimates of Planning Commission and March 2000 population estimates of Registrar General of India or the number of such families actually identified and ration cards issued to them by the State/UT Governments, whichever is less. Government of India has been making allocation of subsidized foodgrains for all the accepted number of 6.52 crore BPL families including about 2.43 crore Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families @ 35 kg per family per month. Allocation of subsidized foodgrains are also made to Above Poverty Line (APL) families based on the availability of foodgrains in the Central pool and past offtake. Presently, the allocation of foodgrains to APL families to the States/UTs range between 15 kg. and 35 kg. per family per month.  However, these allocations will change under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, details of which may be seen under the FAQs relating to NFSA, 2013.

4.         Further, Government makes allocation of foodgrains for other welfare schemes such as Midday Meal Scheme and Wheat Based Nutrition Programme under ICDS, Nutritional Programme for Adolescent Girls, Annapurna Scheme and Emergency Feeding Programme, etc. Govt. also makes additional allocation of foodgrains from time to time depending upon the availability of foodgrains in stocks and requirements/requests received from the State/UT Governments.

Question No.2 : What is the AAY scheme? What are the estimated number of AAY families and the number of AAY families identified & ration cards issued in the States and UTs ?

Answer :         In order to make Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) more focused and targeted towards this category of population, the “Antyodaya Anna Yojana” (AAY) was launched in December, 2000 for one crore poorest of the poor families. Since then the scheme has been expanded thrice. The first expansion took place on 5th June, 2003, second expansion on 3rd August, 2004 and third expansion on 12th May 2005, increasing the number of families by 50 lakh at each expansion, thus raising the total coverage of AAY families to 2.50 crore.

2.         AAY contemplated identification of one crore poorest of the poor families from amongst the number of BPL families covered under TPDS within the States and providing them food grains at a highly subsidized rate of Rs.2/ per kg. for wheat and Rs. 3/ per kg for rice. The States/UTs are required to bear the distribution cost, including margin to dealers and retailers as well as the transportation cost. Thus the entire food subsidy is being passed on to the consumers under the scheme. The scale of issue that was initially 25 kg per family per month has been increased to 35 kg per family per month with effect from 1st April, 2002.

3.         The identification of the Antyodaya families and issue of distinctive ration cards to these families is the responsibility of the concerned State Governments. Guidelines were issued to the States/UTs for identification of the poorest of the poor families as Antyodaya families and additional Antyodaya families under the expanded AAY.

4.         The focus on the following groups has been enshrined in the scheme guidelines:

a) Landless agriculture labourers, marginal farmers, rural artisans/craftsmen such as potters, tanners, weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters, slum dwellers, and persons earning their livelihood on daily basis in the informal sector like porters, coolies, rickshaw pullers, hand cart pullers, fruit and flower sellers, snake charmers, rag pickers, cobblers, destitutes and other similar categories in both rural and urban areas.

b) Households headed by widows or terminally ill persons/disabled persons/ persons aged 60 years or more with no assured means of subsistence or societal support.

c) Widows or terminally ill persons or disabled persons or persons aged 60 years or more or single women or single men with no family or societal support or assured means of subsistence.

d) All primitive tribal households.

5.         The above guidelines have further been amended to include all eligible BPL families of HIV positive persons in the AAY list on priority against the criteria mentioned in the guidelines for identification of families under AAY within respective ceilings on numbers of AAY families communicated by this Department.

6.         At present, 2.50 crore families are covered under the scheme. However, as on 31.12.2013, so far 2.43 crore families have been issued AAY cards by the States/UTs

(details given in Annexure).

 

 

Question No.3 : What is the procedure for obtaining BPL/AAY/APL ration card?

Ans: Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and the State/Union Territory (UT) Governments. Central Government is responsible for procurement, allocation and transportation of foodgrains upto the designated depots of the Food Corporation of India. The operational responsibility for allocation and distribution of foodgrains within the States/UTs, identification of eligible Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, issuance of ration cards to them and supervision over and monitoring of functioning of Fair Price Shops (FPSs) rests with the concerned State/UT Government. In view of the above, as this department does not issue BPL/AAY/APL ration card, for this purpose, an individual may approach the Food and Civil Supplies office of the concerned State/UT.

Under National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, coverage under TPDS has been delinked from poverty estimates. The coverage of 75% and 50% of the rural and urban population respectively prescribed under the Act is substantially above the poverty estimates. Subject to coverage determined for each State/UT, the State Government or UT Administrations are required to identify the eligible households and issue ration cards to them. Thus, States/UTs will issue ration cards to the eligible households covered under the Priority Households and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

Question No.4 : How much quantity of Wheat and Rice are admissible for a BPL/AAY Cardholder and at what price?

Ans: Allocation of foodgrains (rice and wheat) is made by Central Government under Targeted Public Distribution System(TPDS) @ 35 kg. per family per month for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families including Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families in the country. Allocations of foodgrains for Above Poverty Line (APL) families are made depending upon availability of foodgrain stocks in the Central Pool and past offtake by the State/UT. The allocations for APL families in States/UTs range between 15 to 35 kg per family per month.

The Central Issue Price(CIP) of AAY has been kept constant at Rs. 3.00 per kg for rice and Rs.2.00 per kg for wheat since the introduction of this scheme in December, 2000. For APL and BPL families, Central Issue Price of Rice and Wheat are as under:-

(Rs.per quintal)

Rice

APL

BPL

With effect from

Common

795

565

1.7.2002 till date

Grade 'A'

830

   

Wheat

610

415

1.7.2002 till date

However, under NFSA 2013, the APL and BPL categories have been done away with and instead, only, eligible households i.e. priority households and the households covered under the AAY shall be entitled to receive foodgrains under TPDS i.e. rice, wheat and coarse grains @ Rs 3/-, 2/- and Rs. 1/- per kg respectively. The entitlements of priority households shall be @ 5 kg per person per month and the AAY families will get 35 kg per family per month. Further details relating to NFSA, 2013 may be seen under the respective FAQs.


Question No.5 : What is the grievance redressal mechanism available for the beneficiaries of TPDS?

Ans: Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and State/UT Governments wherein the Central Government is responsible for procurement, allocation and transportation upto the designated depots of the Food Corporation of India. 
The operational responsibility for allocation and distribution of foodgrains within the States/UTs, identification of eligible Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, issuance of ration cards to them and supervision over and monitoring of functioning of Fair Price Shops (FPSs) rests with the concerned State/UT Government. Therefore, as and when complaints are received in the Department from individuals and organizations as well as through press reports, they are sent to State/UT Governments concerned for inquiry and appropriate action. In case of any grievance relating to the above- referred aspects, the Food & Civil Supplies authorities of the State/UT concerned may be approached.

Further, some States/UTs have established toll free helpline numbers for redressal and registration of grievances under TPDS. NFSA, 2013 also provides for a two tier grievance redressal mechanism comprising of District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) at the District level and State Food Commission (SFC) at the State level.

Question No.6: What measures have been taken to improve the PDS in the Country?

Ans: Strengthening and streamlining of TPDS is a continuous process. Central Government has regularly reviewed and issue instructions from time to time to States/Union Territories to strengthen functioning of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) by improving monitoring mechanism and vigilance, increased transparency in functioning of TPDS, adoption of revised Model Citizen’s Charter, use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and to improve the efficiency of Fair Price Shop operations.

Besides, advisories are also issued on regular basis requesting State/UT Governments for continuous review of lists of BPL and AAY families and for ensuring timely availability of foodgrains at Fair Price Shops (FPSs) etc.

Moreover, Section 12 of NFSA, 2013 stipulates that (1) The Central and State Governments shall endeavour to progressively undertake necessary reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System in consonance with the role envisaged for them in the Act. The reforms shall, inter alia, include—

(a) doorstep delivery of foodgrains to the TPDS outlets;

(b) application of information and communication technology tools including

end-to-end computerisation in order to ensure transparent recording of transactions at all levels, and to prevent diversion;

(c) leveraging ''aadhaar'' for unique identification, with biometric information of entitled beneficiaries for proper targeting of benefits under this Act;

(d) preference to public institutions or public bodies such as Panchayats, self help groups, co-operatives, in licensing of fair price shops and management of fair price shops by women or their collectives;

(f) diversification of commodities distributed under the Public Distribution System over a period of time;

(g) support to local public distribution models and grains banks;

(h) introducing schemes, such as, cash transfer, food coupons, or other schemes, to the targeted beneficiaries in lieu of their foodgrain entitlements specified in Chapter II, in such area and manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

Question No. 7 : Whether Government of India is undertaking any programme for strengthening and upgrading the skills of personnel engaged in the functioning and implementation of TPDS.

Answer :         Department of Food & Public Distribution, Government of India is implementing a scheme component called TPDS- Training. This aims at strengthening and upgrading the skills of personnel engaged in the functioning and implementation of TPDS by conducting training programmes and organizing lectures, seminars and workshops on policy issues with regard to TPDS and related fields for functionaries of various levels in the State Food and Civil Supplies Department and State Agencies like State Civil Supplies Corporations, etc. To make TPDS more effective & efficient, training is also provided to FPS owners, members of PRIs and Urban Local Bodies and members of Vigilance Committees at various levels, engaged in TPDS.

2.         Central Government provides financial assistance to the State/UT Governments for conducting training programmes @ Rs.500/- per person per day. The maximum duration of the training programme may be five working days and the maximum assistance per training programme would be Rs.50,000/-. In the case of Seminars/Workshops the duration is two days. The financial assistance for conducting Seminars/Workshops is also Rs.500/- per person per day and the maximum assistance per Seminar/Workshop would be Rs.50,000/-.  In order to successfully implement NFSA, 2013, training programmes will be organised to sensitize and train key official of the State/UT Governments, FCI, Master Trainers nominated by States/UTs, etc through FCI or other agency. 

 Question No.8 : What is the provision for giving commission/margin to the FPS dealers/owners for distribution of foodgrains by them under TPDS?

 Answer: Government of India allocates foodgrains at subsidized rates uniformly to all States/UTs. The Central Issue Price (CIP) of wheat and rice under TPDS for various categories of beneficiaries are as follows:

 

Above Poverty Line

Below Poverty Line

Antyodaya Anna Yojana

Wheat

Rice

(Gr. A)

Wheat

Rice (Com/Gr. A)

Wheat

Rice

(Com/Gr. A)

6.10

8.30

4.15

5.65

2.00

3.00

 

2.         Public Distribution System (Control) Order,  2001 mandates the States/UT Governments to issue licenses to Fair Price Shops owners, monitor their operations and take all required action to ensure smooth functioning of TPDS. The State/UT Governments have been given flexibility in the matter of fixing the margin for the fair price shops. This is, however, not to apply to distribution of foodgrains under Antyodaya Anna Yojana where end retail price is to be retained at Rs.2 a kg for wheat and Rs.3 a kg for rice. The issue prices of foodgrains at Fair Price Shops are fixed by the State/UT Governments keeping into consideration the transport and handling charges, margin to be paid to the fair price shops owners, etc.

            The NFSA, 2013 provides that the Central Government shall provide assistance to the State Government in meeting expenditure incurred by them towards intra-State movement, handling of foodgrains and margins paid to FPS dealers, in accordance with such norms and manners as may be prescribed by the Central Government. Further, this Department constituted a committee of select State Food Secretaries and officers of this Department to inter-alia recommend the norms for this assistance to States/UTs. Based on discussions held by the committee, a report has been prepared, which is under examination.

Question No.9 : What are the salient features of the National Food Security     Act?

Answer:

(i)                 Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): Upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population will be covered under TPDS, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month. However, since Antyodaya  Anna Yojana (AAY) households constitute poorest of the poor, and are presently entitled to 35 kg per household per month, entitlement of existing AAY households will be protected at 35 kg per household per month.

(ii)               State-wise coverage: Corresponding to the all India coverage of 75% and 50% in the rural and urban areas, State-wise coverage is to be determined by the Central Government. Using the NSSO  Household Consumption Survey data Planning Commission has determined the State-wise coverage.

(iii)             Subsidised prices under TPDS and their revision: Foodgrains under TPDS will be made available at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains for a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act. Thereafter prices will  be suitably linked to Minimum Support Price (MSP).

(iv)             In case, any State’s allocation under the proposed legislation is lower than their current allocation, it will be protected upto the level of average offtake during last three years, at prices to be determined by the Central Government. Existing prices for APL households i.e. Rs. 6.10 per kg for wheat and Rs 8.30 per kg for rice has been determined as issue prices for the additional allocation to protect the average offtake during last three years.

(v)               Identification of Households: Within the coverage under TPDS determined for each State, the work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs.

(vi)             Nutritional Support to women and children: Pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes. Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children upto 6 years of age.

(vii)           Maternity Benefit: Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be entitled receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.

(viii)         Women Empowerment: Eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above will be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.

(ix)             Grievance Redressal Mechanism: The Act provides for grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels. State Governments will have the flexibility to use the existing machinery or set up separate mechanism.

(x)               Cost of intra-State transportation & handling of foodgrains and FPS Dealers' margin: Central Government will provide assistance to States in meeting the expenditure incurred by them on transportation of foodgrains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers’ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose.

(xi)             Transparency and Accountability: Provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to TPDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability.

(xii)           Food Security Allowance: Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals.

(xiii)         Penalty: Provision for penalty on public servant or authority, to be imposed by the State Food Commission, in case of failure to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer.

 

Question No.10:  What is the Village Grain Bank scheme of the Government and what is its present status?

 

Answer:      Village Grain Bank scheme (VGB) was being implemented by the Department of Food & Public Distribution, since 24.11.2004.   

The main objective of the scheme was to provide safeguard against starvation during the period of natural calamity or during lean season when the marginalized food insecure households do not have sufficient resources to purchase rations.  Such people in need of food grains could borrow foodgrains from Village Grain Bank.  The grain banks  were to be set up in food scarce areas like the drought prone areas, hot and cold desert areas, tribal areas and the inaccessible hilly areas which  remain cut off because of natural calamities like floods, etc.

However, due to lack of interest from the States and implementation of NFSA from 5th July, 2013 which puts added responsibility on the States/UTs to provide foodgrains to the beneficiaries as a right even in the remotest areas every month the scheme has been discontinued since 1st January, 2014.