FSA brought in drastic changes

K V Thomas

Food minister in the previous UPA government, K V Thomas, who had piloted the Food Security Bill in the Parliament, feels happy that the Food Security Act (FSA) brought in drastic changes in the public distribution system over the years, especially in reducing food wastage and ensuring that subsidised items reach the beneficiaries.

In an interview with DH's Arjun Raghunath, Thomas suggested that in order to strengthen the ration supply system as well as to make it more profitable more essential commodities should be distributed through the public distribution system (PDS) and more players like cooperative organisations and women’s collectives should be invited to run ration shops. Excerpts:

How do you see FSA's implementation?

Though it is yet to achieve the entire objectives, we must say that there has been drastic changes in the PDS. While I was the food minister, the food wastage was about 5%, which is now brought down to 0.1%. Now the country has got good storage facilities and almost foolproof distribution system.

What do you think is the most significant change in PDS?

Electronic tracking of the food grain supply, introduction of electronic weighing balances and sending SMS messages to the beneficiaries were steps that ensured that the beneficiaries got the right share of food grain at the right time. The FSA also gave everyone a right for food grains. The system that allows a ration card holder to get his or her share from any ration shop also made the PDS more beneficial for the people. Electronic authentication facilities are helping in checking malpractices in issuing priority ration cards.

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