State struggles to weed out 1.56 cr PDS beneficiaries to begin central scheme

“At least 35 lakh families holding ration cards will not be a part of the food security scheme. We are in the process of finalising a way to identify these.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: November 24, 2013 1:26:36 am

With less than a month to go for the deadline that the Maharashtra government had set for itself implementing the food security scheme,it is yet to carry out the challenging and politically sensitive task of identifying the 1.56 crore beneficiaries of the existing public distribution system who will not be a part of the ambitious central government scheme.

State’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh said that while 8.70 crore people benefit from PDS in Maharashtra at present,only 7.17 crore people will be the beneficiaries of the FSS as per the central government’s target set for rural and urban population.

“At least 35 lakh families holding ration cards will not be a part of the food security scheme. We are in the process of finalising a way to identify these. Currently,we are considering excluding Above Poverty Line ration card holders. But we need to find out those APL card holders who have not availed of PDS for a while,” said Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh.

An official from the department said there were more orange card holders (annual income between Rs 20,000 and Rs 1 lakh) in rural areas and less in urban areas. “We need to decrease orange card holder FSS beneficiaries in rural areas and increase the same in urban areas. A large-scale household survey is required for that since no data is currently available with the state. The task is not only politically sensitive but also administratively very difficult and subjective in nature,” the official said.

Under the scheme,the total food grains availability in the state will go up from 3.95 lakh tonnes to 4.25 lakh tonnes,but only 76.32 per cent of the existing beneficiaries in rural areas and 45.34 per cent in urban areas will benefit from it.

Meanwhile,the department has received requests from MLAs and MPs from urban areas who do not want downsizing the number of beneficiaries currently availing subsidies under various food schemes already existing in Maharashtra.

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