Public Distribution System in Andhra Pradesh
India’s Public Distribution System (PDS) is perhaps the largest retail system of its type in the world. Since 1951 public distribution of food grains has been retained as deliberate social policy by India with the objectives of:
(i) Providing food grains and other essential items to vulnerable sections of the society at reasonable (subsidized) prices
(ii) To put an indirect check on the open market prices of various items and
(iii) To attempt socialization in the matter of distribution of essential commodities
PDS is an important constituent of the strategy for poverty eradication and is intended to serve as a safety net for the poor and are nutritionally at risk.
PDS is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and the State Governments. The Central Government has taken the responsibility for procurement, storage, transportation and bulk allocation of food grains, etc.
The operational details of the PDS differ from state to state. Though the policy of setting up of Fair Price Shops owes its initiation to national food policy, its implementation remains the direct responsibility of the state governments.
In order to operate the PDS effectively, the Central Government issues guidelines from time to time to the states regarding the operational details of the PDS. The operational responsibilities including allocation within the State, identification of families below poverty line, issue of ration cards, supervision and monitoring the functioning of Fair Price Shops rest with the State Governments.
The Food and Civil Supplies Department of the State Government is mainly entrusted with the task of monitoring PDS in the state.
The policy of Public Distribution System/Rationing System has undergone several changes with every lap of Five Year Planning System in the country. The Seventh Five Year Plan assigned to it a crucial role by bringing the entire population under Public Distribution System and became a permanent feature in the country's economy.
The beneficiaries under Public Distribution System are categorized as
a) Above Poverty Line (APL)
b) Below Poverty Line (BPL)
The APL beneficiaries are provided with Pink colour Ration card and BPL beneficiaries are provided with white colour Ration card.
Due to failure to serve the population below the poverty line, urban bias, negligible coverage in the States with the highest concentration of the rural poor and lack of transport and accountable arrangements for delivery, TPDS( Targeted Public Distribution System) was introduced w.e.f 01.06.1997 in the State.
A food coupon system for distribution of rice and kerosene through PDS was introduced in Andhra Pradesh during 1998-99 in order to improve the delivery system of these two commodities.
As per the Economic Survey released by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for the year 2011-12, there are 2,26,41,674 ration cards attached to 44,579 Fair Price shops functioning in the State as on 30.11.2011. The classification of ration cards are
1. White – 1,79,96,243
2. AAY -15,57,800
4. Pink- 29,94,431
Out of them 44,579 Fair Price shops, 6747 are in urban areas and 37872 are in rural areas. On an average there are 535 cards/ families attached to each Fair price shop with 1965 persons in Andhra Pradesh.
Rice, Wheat, Sugar, Iodized Salt,dal, edible oil and Kerosene are the general commodities that are being supplied under PDS. Under market intervention operations Onions, tamarind, chillies, redgram dal, Sona masuri rice will also be make available to the consumers at affordable prices.
FCI is playing a crucial role in procurement and buffer stock operations and thereby insulating the food economy from fluctuations in food grains production and rise in prices due to intermediaries and private traders.
The system also provides gainful employment for Fair Price Shops Owners, their employees and hired labour who work at the FCI and state warehousing godowns.
PDS also has become a cornerstone of government development policy and is tied to implementation of most rural development programs. PDS is also a key driver of public sentiment and is an important and very visible metric of government performance.
The Public Distribution System was initially visualized in terms of checking inflation and protecting vulnerable sections from the vagaries of the market mechanism. But on looking various studies, findings and results, PDS scheme in Andhra Pradesh is success and the poor are deriving their food security.