BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, February 13: Admitting that anomalies are taking place in the public distribution system (PDS) in the Northeastern region including Assam, Union Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan has put the onus of keeping the system transparent on the respective state governments.
After taking part in a review meeting on the PDS here on Friday, Paswan told reporters: “Keeping tab on the PDS is the responsibility of the State government which must monitor and control it. If some major anomalies take place, the Central government will interfere then.”
He however said that the state governments have been asked to rectify the problems dogging the PDS in the region. “We have even asked the state governments to upload the mes of PDS beneficiaries on website for transparency.”
Paswan denied instituting any probe into the reported anomalies in the PDS in NE states.
“Under the PDS, 2.95 lakh tonnes of rice and wheat is allotted monthly to the Northeastern region by the Central government. It is the duty of the state government to keep tab on the proper distribution of PDS items among beneficiaries. Our job is to supply PDS items to the state governments,” he said, adding, “I know that a chunk of PDS items do not reach beneficiaries, and such anomalies are taking place in Assam too.”
Significantly, the Union minister said, “The Assam Food Secretary, when asked, told me no such anomalies are taking place in the State. But I am not convinced.”
Regarding the implementation of the tiol Food Security Act (NFSA), the minister said eleven states have already implemented it and remaining states have conveyed that identification of beneficiaries and other preparatory works were being completed for its implementation.
On the issue of strengthening the targeted public distribution system (TPDS), Paswan informed that NE states have been given top priority by the Central government. On the issue of subsidized rations to tea labourers in Assam, he said, “Workers in tea estates across the State will continue to get subsidised foodgrains as the Assam government has reportedly included them in the list of beneficiaries under the NFSA.”
The Union minister stressed upon time-bound upgradation and augmentation of the BIS testing lab in Guwahati.
On the adequate and timely supply of food items to other NE states and its relation to completion of the Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project, Paswan said, “The NF Railways has assured me that the Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion work will be completed by March this year.”