Distribution timeline set
GUWAHATI: To ensure proper distribution of food grains allocated under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) to the beneficiaries included under the National Food Security Act, 2013, the state government has notified an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure).
According to sources in the Food, Public Distribution, and Consumer Affairs Department, the PDS has had no SOP in the state since its inception, despite various allegations of diversion or leakage. Examining all aspects, and to prevent any diversion or leakage of highly subsidized PDS and TPDS commodities allocated under various schemes in the state, the government notified the SOP for all stakeholders in the state to follow, along with the terms and conditions, provisions, and clauses of all the relevant orders, Acts and Rules in force.
Through the SOP, the department has stipulated timelines for the distribution of food grains by fair price shops. The fair price shops cannot distribute food grains beyond their stipulated timeline.
According to the timelines, the fair price shops will have to lift food grains from FCI (Food Corporation of India) and deliver food grains at the doorstep of the fair price shops between the first and ninth days of the month. The fair price shops will distribute the food grains from 10th to 16th of every month, known as ‘Anna Seva Saptah’.
According to the SOP, the fair price shops will have to distribute the food grains to the beneficiaries through e-PoS machines through biometric authentication of beneficiaries. e-PoS machines will be operational only on the 10th and 16th of every month. The fair price shops must issue system-generated printed receipts to the beneficiaries for each transaction done through e-PoS devices. The SOP has also specified that fair price shops will remain open throughout the day for the beneficiaries to receive food grains during the Anna Seva Saptah.
The SOP further spells out that any violation of instructions by the government for online distribution of food grains is to be considered an offence by the fair price shops. Exceptions are allowed only in the case of specific beneficiaries whose AADHAAR is not available due to an NRC issue, old age, or physical disability. Also, partial online and offline transactions are allowed only in those fair price shops which are marked as falling under shadow areas (where there is no mobile network).
The fair price shops must maintain a register for any offline distribution allowed by the government in exceptional cases and duly certify the same by the area officer concerned within the 16th day of the distribution month.
Defaulting fair price shops will face strict action as per government notification and under the provisions of the relevant clauses of the Assam Public Distribution of Articles Order 1982 (as amended) and TPDS Control Order 2015 (as amended) and any other applicable acts or rules under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
The fair price shops provide food grains to people holding ration cards under the NFSA (National Food Security Act).