With the Gujarat government deciding to let only women run the new fair price shops (FPS), the public distribution system (PDS) will gradually phase out the usual lala (shop owner) to make way for the fairer sex to take the charge of the shop. This change will take place across the state to meet the increased demand of commodity distribution under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013.
Besides, while issuing new shop licenses the priority will be given to public institutions like panchayats, women’s self-help groups (SHG) , other SHGs and cooperative groups over individuals.
“This will be a total change from the current scene, wherein we hardly see women running the show. But now priority will be given to them,” said a top official from the Food, Civil Supply and Consumer Affairs department.
In cases where specified groups like women’s SHGs or public institutions are not available to run the shops, the license will be issued first to educated unemployed women and then to educated unemployed men.
At present, there are around 17,000 FPSs across some 13,000 gram panchayats in rural areas. The number is likely to go up several fold as Gujarat government, as part of preparation for implementing the National Food Security Act 2013, has initiated survey on how many new shops will be required.
As per new criterion set, at least one new shop will come up in villages with a population between 3,000 and 6,000, and two for 6,000 to 9,000 and so on. In villages with less than 3,000 population and no existing FPS, then a new one will be set up in the village itself or within 3 km radius of the village. And, if no institution or individual is available to open shop in village for less than 3,000 population, then the department itself will be covering such areas with mobile vans to ensure that a ration cardholder gets facility within 3 km radius.
In urban areas, two new shops will come up between population of 7,500 and 15,000. To set up the third shop, the population should be more than 22,500 and a shop will be added for every additional population of 7,500.
The survey is on to decide which are the villages and urban areas require the shops and where the shops should be set up. Once this will be done, the process of issuing licenses will begin.
The existing shops will continue to function as usual. But if it gets closed for any reason, the license will be then issued as per the new rules.