PDS fails in feeding India's poor

Published: Wednesday 15 August 2007

-- Down to Earth India's Targeted Public Distribution System (tpds) gives subsidised essential commodities to economically weaker households. Till 1997, the system had supplied subsidised commodities to all

Down to Earth Households under tpds are classed as Below Poverty Line (bpl) and Above Poverty Line (apl) groups based on income. bpl is further divided into bpl and Antyodaya scheme which targets economically weakest people

Down to Earth Other food assistance programmes are Food for Work, Annapurna Anna Yojana (aay), Integrated Child Development Scheme and Mid-day Meal. Down to Earth

Estimates show households with more than 0.4 hectares (ha) benefit more from the schemes

Down to Earth Subsidies for apl families were eliminated in 2000. Under tpds, about 50 per cent Down to Earthsubsidy (against government's procurement cost) is given to bpl families. Antyodaya gives even higher rate of subsidies

Trends Down to Earth Under tpds, 81 per cent of rural and 67 per cent of urban households have ration cards. Over 26 per cent households in rural areas and 10.5 per cent in urban areas have bpl cards

Down to Earth Households with less than 0.01 ha do not have ration cards. In Andhra Pradesh, 28 per cent of the rural households does not have ration cards. This is 29 per cent in Chhattisgarh, 23.2 per cent in Jharkhand and 33 per cent in Orissa--states with high tribal population

l In 2004-05, over 40 per cent of the households dependent on agriculture and 32 per cent of households dependent on other labours held bpl cards. Five per cent of the agricultural labour households and four per cent of other labour households had Antyodaya cards

Down to Earth 40 per cent of bpl cards are held by scheduled tribe households, 35 per cent by scheduled castes, 25 per cent by other backward classes and 17 per cent by others

Down to Earth Number of households with ration cards is highest among the self employed; about 11 per cent of them hold bpl cards

Down to Earth The poverty line for rural India is at Rs 356 a month. In households that fall at the bottom of the Monthly Per Capita Expenditure (mpce) category (below Rs 235), 41 per cent hold bpl cards. In top three mpce classes--Rs 690-890, Rs 890-1,155 and Rs 1,155 or more--18 per cent, 14 per cent and 11 per cent respectively hold bpl cards
Chinks in the chain Down to Earth 58 per cent of the subsidised food does not reach bpl families. 22 per cent of the food meant for the poor reaches apl families and 36 per cent is sold in the black market

Down to Earth To transfer food worth a rupee, the government spends Rs 3.65.The fair price shops are not viable, prone to food leakage

Down to Earth Faulty targeting, ghost cards, unvailability and low-quality food dog pds

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