Vigilance Committees (VCs) have been in existence since the inception of the rationing system. The Central Government has been requesting the State Governments from time to time to
activate these Committees for monitoring of PDS and reconstitute them, if not done so, by associating members from amongst the card holders and consumer activists as well as Members of Parliament. In the Model Citizens’ Charter, issued in November, 1997, constitution
of VCs by the State Governments at the level of Panchayat /Ward, Taluk, District and State/UT was emphasised. In the guidelines issued in June 1999 for the Involvement of the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the implementation of TPDS, it was mentioned that
the Gram Panchayat/Gram Sabha should be encouraged to form FPS committees. The main functions of VCs are to ensure smooth functioning of PDS and redressal of problems related with it. The Government has also issued instructions to States/UTs to constitute
VCs at FPS/Panchayat, Block, District and the State/UT level drawing members from the Government, social organisations, consumer organization and local bodies to periodically review the functioning of the schemes/FPS under PDS. Instructions have also been
issued to all the States/UTs to involve Sarpanch, Pradhan, Pramukh, and Food Minister/Food Secretaries as the Chairmen of the VCs at village/FPS, block, districts and State level respectively. Despite the instructions taken up with the States from time to
time, it is still felt that lot of work needs to be done by the States for making the VCs effective on ground to address the problems in the system.
The PDS (C) Order, 2001 notified on 31.08.2001 provides for the holding of the meeting of the VCs at the State, District, Block and FPS level by the State Government at least on quarterly
basis. The Date and periodicity of the meeting to be notified by the State Governments.
In order to further strengthen the provisions of the VCs, the setting of the Committees has been brought under the provisions of the National Food Security Act, 2013. The provisions
have been more elaborated in the new TPDS (Control) Order, 2015 notified on 20.03.2015.
The Targeted Public Distribution System (Control) Order, 2015 has been notified on 20.03.2015 in supersession of the PDS (C) Order, 2001 under section 3 of the Essential Commodities
Act, 1955 and in consonance with the NFSA, 2013. The TPDS (C) Order, 2015 prescribes various provisions on the VCs for supervision and monitoring of the TPDS by the State Government. These are:
- Clause 2(p) of the Order defines the VC as a committee constituted to regularly supervise the functioning of TPDS in the State;
- Clause 11 (4) provides that the State Government shall set up VCs for the TPDS at the State, District, Block and FPS levels as per NFSA’s provisions to perform functions as specified in the said Act.
- Clause 11 (5) provides that the meetings of the VCs shall be held at least once every quarter at all levels and the date and periodicity of the meeting shall be notified by the State Governments and given wide publicity.
- Clause 11(7) provides that the number of meetings held by the VCs shall be displayed on the State web portal and the action taken on issues discussed in meetings of VCs shall be reviewed in the next meeting.
- Clause 7(4) provides that the designated authority shall ensure that one copy of the allocation order made to the FPS is delivered to the local authority, VCs, and any other body nominated by the State Government for monitoring
the functioning of the FPS.
- Clause 8(5) provides that the monthly certificate shall be given by the FPS owner and two or more persons as may be authorised by the State Government such as head of the local authority, Executive Officer, Secretary of the local
authority, members from the VCs, women’s self help group among others.
Section 29 of the NFSA, 2013 provides for State Governments to set up VCs at the State, District, Block and FPS levels comprising of such persons as may be prescribed by them, giving due representation to the local authorities,
SCs, STs, women, destitute or persons with disability in these Committees. Section 29 of Act further prescribes the functions to be performed by the VCs, namely, regular supervision of implementation of all the schemes under NFSA including TPDS, informing
the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) in writing of any violation of the provision of the Act as well as of malpractices or misappropriation of funds found by it. These provisions are expected to further strengthen the institution of VCs and ensure
an effective role for them in the distribution system.