Over 450 organisations and individuals have written to the central government to make PDS universal for 6 months and increase the quantity of rations. So has Sonia Gandhi.
The central government has made provision for extra rations to be made available for three months to those who are covered by the National Food Security Act but there are serious omissions in the system and a large number of people who need food security do not have ration cards due to a number of reasons. Over 450 organisations and individuals have written to the central government that for the next 6 months the Public Distribution System should be made universal - anyone who approaches the ration shop for free rations should not be turned away. Indelible ink should be used to ensure no one is taking double the quantity of ration. They argue that in states such as Tamil Nadu where PDS is universal self-selection makes it efficient. The opportunity cost of standing in long lines for inferior quality grains deters those who do not need it from availing of it. You can read the full text of the letter here. A number of states have come up with procedures to make free rations available to those without ration cards but for most part these mechanisms are causing delays. The letter gives a couple of examples. Another example here. Therefore, the best way to tackle this issue efficiently is to make PDS universal across the country. President of the Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi, has made a similar request in a letter to the Prime Minister - asking the central government to issue free rations to those who need them and do not have a ration card, pointing out that most often these are vulnerable classes of people such as migrant workers. You can read the full text of her letter here. Mrs. Gandhi has also asked that the quantity of rations be increased and that the increased quantity be made available for longer - a demand echoed in the aforementioned letter as well. She has additionally suggested that the Food Corporation of India open up its reserves to cover shortfalls in states. A recommendation also made by Jean Dreze in this article. Doing so will also create storage space for the FCI to scale up procurement of Rabi crops being harvested at the moment, she adds.
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