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Success of PDS in Chhattisgarh

Probably the only thing extraordinary about Manglu is that he is the perfect example of an
ordinary tribal. The 60-year-old belongs to the Pahadi Korba tribe and lives in Govindpur village
of Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh. He best represents what modern India calls a below poverty
line (BPL) beneficiary of various government schemes. Manglu earns just about Rs.200 a month
and has a family of four to support. He is uneducated, unskilled and most of all, unaware that he
is eligible for some relief from the government.

In the past, he would routinely rush to the village moneylender by the middle of the month to get
a loan just to ward off hunger. The repayment of this loan would then account for the bulk of his
next months income.

But lately things have changed. For the first time in his life, in August 2007, he was given a
red card which meant that the Chhattisgarh government recognised him as one of the poorest
of the poor in the state and promised to provide 35 kg of rice a month at Rs.1 per kg under the
Public Distribution System (PDS). Moreover, the PDS shop is now being run by his villages
Panchayat and is just walking distance from his hut.
The PDS historically has been criticized as being highly inefficient. However, the State of
Chhattisgarh is among those that have improved distribution of PDS food grains through a
number of reforms, some well- publicized (post-2004) and some less publicized (pre-2004). PDS
reforms, similar to the post-2004 reforms implemented in Chhattisgarh, have been implemented
in other States and helped to serve as a basis for the NFSA. In this study, we estimate the impact
that pre- and post-2004 reforms had on PDS consumption and on rates of food insecurity.

Some key reforms initiated by Govt. are
Gave ownership of PDS shops to local community owned bodies. Prices of rice reduced
to Re.1 per kg for the poorest of the poor. Shops opens round the month instead of couple
of days earlier and no of shops increased from 8,492 to 10,549.
Expanded no. of beneficiaries to include 75% of households instead of 42% mandated by
union. To weed out bogus cards, all existing cards were cancelled and centrally printed
fresh set of BPL cards with hologram and bar code under a new database.
Computerization of fair price shop and data related with stocks and sales to enable swift
allocation of grains.
GPS enabled transport vehicle helped streamline the system through constant tracking
and ensured doorstep delivery to ration shops.
Mobile based application including SMS alerts for interested beneficiaries were offered
which improved the access to information about food grains lifted from godowns and
their delivery at ration shops
At the village level, i.e., after food grains reach the ration shops, the reformed system
ensured that all information pertaining to beneficiaries is made public.
This was done through painting houses with colour codes signifying kind of cards held,
in the process naming and shaming the cases of wrong inclusion.
The list of BPL households was displayed at panchayat offices too.
Awareness was also increased by celebrating chawal utsav (rice festival) on the 7
t h
of
each month; 152 dal bhaat kendras started in public areas like bus stand, railway station
where a full meal was served for Rs.5.
All these innovations were supported by centralized monitoring and grievance redressal
mechanism in the form of a functioning helpline and access to information regarding
PDS
Economic viability of PDS shops was also increased by increasing shopkeepers
commission from Rs.8 per quintal to Rs.44 per quintal of food grain disbursed.

Impacts of various reforms are as under
Consumption of PDS grains increased greatly between 1999/2000 and 2009/10; the average
calories per capita obtained from PDS rice increased by 880 percent.
PDS consumption began to increase before the first of the post-2004 reforms, and continued
to increase after the post-2004 reforms. It is difficult to predict whether other States
implementing only certain aspects of Chhattisgarhs post-2004 PDS reforms would share
Chhattisgarhs successthe existence of a prior, upward trend in PDS consumption makes
this prediction even more difficult.
An improvement in food security and nutritional outcomes in Chhattisgarh occurred
between 1999/2000 and 2004/05, primarily among low-income households that were most
likely eligible for the largest subsidies.
Based on these findings, we conclude that the major reforms in Chhattisgarh were likely
successful at improving the performance of the PDS and helped reduce the food-insecure
population. The case of Chhattisgarh shows that improving the PDS in States where the
system operates less efficiently is both possible and can effectively help trim rates of food
insecurity.
References:
http://forbesindia.com/printcontent/19972
http://www.im4change.org.previewdns.com/docs/335reforming-the-pds-lessons- from-
chhattisgarh.pdf
http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1332421/err164.pdf