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Call To Improve The Public Distribution System
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Malnutrition deaths in rural and urban areas of Thane, Maharashtra have risen in the last few months. Due to this, Governor K Sankaranarayanan has engaged district authorities to urgently streamline the public distribution system (PDS). This directive came after meetings were held with the minister for tribal development Madhukar Pichad and minister for child and women's development Varsha Gaikwad.
During a meeting with the city collector, the governor asserted numerous concerns over a number of lapses in the PDS and its limited reach in tribal areas of the state. Gaikwad also reiterated that Thane remains a cause of concern as 20 children were reported dead due to malnutrition. Most of the kids belonged to the tribal-dominated belt of Jaawhar and Mokhada.
According to a recent study by the state women and child development department, Thane district comes second on the list of child deaths after Nashik with recorded deaths being as many as 833 deaths in the year 2012-13, while Nashik reported 1,563.
The governor was of the opinion that the deaths were due to lack of medical facilities and infrastructure. The governor explained to the officials that efforts must be taken to make healthcare easily accessible to those in dire need of it, namely, infants and pregnant women. More schemes and programs must be taken up in tribal areas in order to fully develop the health factor in the region.
There have been growing instances of consumers receiving inferior quality food grains in ration shops as deceitful dealers replace good supplies received from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) with inferior stock and sell the FCI stock in the black market. Illicit fair price shop owners have been found to create large number of bogus cards to sell food grains in the open market. Also FPS dealers resort to malpractice, hoarding and black marketing due to the minimal salary received by them. Numerous malpractices have plagued the PDS that make safe and nutritious food inaccessible and unaffordable to many poor thus resulting in their food insecurity.
Identification of households to be denoted status and distribution to granted PDS services has been highly irregular in various states. Aadhar-UIDAI cards have taken up the challenge of solving the persistent problem of identification and distribution of PDS services. Regional allocation and coverage of FPS are unsatisfactory and the core objective of price stabilization of essential commodities has not been met.
The PDS of the country needs to be significantly improved by establishing teams who should be provided with all the support in order to detect corruption. The personnel-in-charge of the local department should be chosen from the local pool of talent. The profit margin should be increased to sustain the businesses for which the market system is ready to cope with.
The FCI and other government agencies should provide quality food grains for distribution with frequent checks being conducted to eliminate duplicate cards. The civil supplies corporation should open more FPS with proper block-boards in place to display the rate chart and quantity available curb monopolistic tendencies.
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