The Chief Minister of Kerala, Mr Oommen Chandy on Friday inaugurated a web portal to make the public distribution system in the state more transparent. The portal, he said can be used to track the movement of rice and other grains from government godowns to the ration shops.
The system can also be used to get the number of the vehicle that carries food grains to ration shops and the number of the dealer through text messages.
In India, over 57% of subsidized grains does not reach the target group, of which a little over 36% is siphoned off the supply chain.
As one observer pointed out, the idea that just using these methods will cut down corruption is naive techno-determinism.
However, many reports have strongly advocated the use of technology in different government public service delivery systems.
The buggy pen and paper way
Recently, Karnataka government installed bio-metric weighing cum point of sale machines at ration shops to plug leakages. The state has plans to install networked, bio-metric touch screen based weighing machine cum point of sale devices in more than 21,000 ration shops in the state at a cost of nearly Rs 100 cr over the next six months.
The central government has earmarked Rs 884 crore to implement end to end computerization of the public distribution system.
India’s Public Distribution System (PDS) with a network of 4.78 Lakh Fair Price Shops (FPS) is one of the largest retail system and currently, under PDS scheme, each family below the poverty line is eligible for 35 kg of rice or wheat every month, while a household above the poverty line is entitled to 15 kg of foodgrain on a monthly basis.