Great Achievements of India’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution during the Covid-affected Year
Ram Vilas Paswan may be now resting in the Heaven, but the Ministry of f Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution that he was heading till his death has done a commendable job in the year 2020 for which he can be highly proud of.
The achievement of his ministry, which had to rise to the severe challenge of the Covid-19 virus, are as follows:
Centrally Sponsored Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice & its Distribution under Public Distribution System”
In order to take the country forward from food security to nutritional security, a Pilot Scheme of Rice Fortification is being implemented in 15 States (One district per State). Gradual scaling up of this initiative has also been envisaged to cover the other parts of the country in due course in a phased manner.
Implementation of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)
Persistent efforts have resulted in universal implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) in all States/UTs, benefitting about 80.60 Crore persons in the country by providing them access to highly subsidized food grains at Rs. 1/2/3 per Kg for Coarse-grains/Wheat/Rice respectively. The prices of food grains indicated above, were initially valid for a period of three years from the date of NFSA coming into force. Further, as amended from time to time, it was decided to continue with the same issue prices up to 30thJune 2019. Thereafter, it has been decided by the Government to keep the issue prices under NFSA unchanged until further orders.
Reforms on Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)
100% digitized ration cards/beneficiaries’ data under NFSA in all States/UTs. There are almost 23.5 Crore Ration Cards covering nearly 80 Crore beneficiaries.
More than 90% Aadhaar seeding of ration cards (at least one member), whereas nearly 86.4% beneficiaries are also Aadhaar seeded at the national level.
More than 91% (4.91 Lakh of total 5.4 Lakh) Fair Price Shops (FPSs) in the country are automated using electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices for transparent and ensured distribution of subsidized foodgrains to beneficiaries.
Nationally, achieved nearly 67% biometrically/Aadhaar authenticated distribution of monthly allocated foodgrains to States/UTs under NFSA.
Further, due to use of technology in TPDS operations since 2013, i.e. digitization of ration cards/beneficiary databases, Aadhaar seeding, de-duplication of databases, detection of ineligible, inactive/silent ration cards (may be due to death/migration of beneficiaries) and during the run-up to and implementation of NFSA, a total of about 4.39 Crore ration cards have been weeded out by States/UTs during the period 2013 to 2020 (08.12.2020), enabling the States/UTs to better utilise their respective coverage for achieving rightful targeting of eligible beneficiaries.
Food security response during the COVID-19 crisis
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Department had allocated nearly 680 LMT food grains. About 350 LMT were allocated to States/UTs for distribution under normal NFSA/TPDS. Additionally, 321 LMT were allocated for free-of-cost distribution under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) and 8 LMT under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme (ANBS).
Under PM-GKAY, additional free-of-cost food grains over and above normal NFSA entitlements, at a scale of 5 Kg/person/month were distributed to all NFSA beneficiaries (AAY & PHH) for a period of 8 months (April to November 2020) and it has been seen that an average of about 93%~94% foodgrains per month was successfully distributed under the regular NFSA and PM-GKAY with all COVID-19 protocols despite multitude of challenges.
Similarly, under ANBS free-of-cost 5 Kg food grains/person/month were given to migrants/ stranded migrants and all those in need without ration cards for a period of 2 months (May & June 2020) up to 31.08.2020. Against an estimated number of 2.8 Cr. migrants/stranded migrants, about 2.74 Cr. persons (98%) received the free ration under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme.
One Nation One Ration Card
Further, Department is implementing ambitious One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan to ensure seamless access to PDS and delivery of food-security entitlements to all beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), anywhere in the country, through nation-wide portability of ration cards in association with all State/UT Governments. Presently, this initiative is seamlessly enabled in a single cluster of 32 States/UTs covering about 69 Crore beneficiaries (nearly 86% of NFSA population). Due to its potential to serve the migrants, this initiative has also become a part of the Prime Minister’s Technology Driven System Reforms under the AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
Supporting the Farmer
During Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2019-20, a record quantity of519.97 LMT paddy (in terms of rice) has been procured against 443.99 LMT of paddy (in terms of rice) in KMS2018-19. During Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) 2020-21, a record quantity of 389.93 LMT of wheat was procured.
During KMS 2019-20(Rabi) and KMS 2020-21, this Department approved the procurement plan of various State Governments for procurement of coarse grains.
Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) (Domestic)
Through Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic) (OMSS(D)) 2020-21, a total quantity of 7.10 Lakh MT of wheat and 11.02 Lakh MT of rice have been sold in the open market till 2nd tender of December, 2020 i.e.09.12.2020.
Under OMSS(D) 2020-21 policy, a special dispensation for supply of Food grains to all the charitable/ non- governmental organizations etc. engaged in relief/running community kitchens for migrant labours/vulnerable groups due to the lock down condition, was introduced w.e.f. 08.04.2020.
The said dispensation was initially up to June, 2020 and now it has been extended at the same rate, terms and conditions for the rest of the year 2020-21. Under the scheme, as on 09.12.2020, 1126 organizations have lifted 10408 MT of rice against progressive approved quantity of 11316 MT. Similarly, 230 organizations have lifted 1246 MT of wheat against progressive approved quantity of 1556 MT.
Movement of Food Grains
As part of HLC recommendation, FCI made a trial of containerised movement of food grains through CONCOR from Chhattisgarh (Raipur) to Maharashtra (Turbhe) in August, 2016 which was extended for further containerised movement from Punjab, Haryana and AP to recipient States like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat which was found to be economical in comparison to conventional Railway rakes. During 2020-21, upto November, 2020, 206 containerised rakes have been moved with approx. freight savings of Rs. 266 Lakhs.
A total of Rs 50421.172 crore has been released as food subsidy to the DCP states from 1.1.2020 to 15.12.2020.
Further, Rs 77980 crores has been released as food subsidy to FCI as on 15.12.2020 from 1.1.2020. Approval of advance lifting & distribution of food grains (Rice & Wheat) was allowed to States upto 3 months on credit basis in view of COVID-19 during March, 2020. Relaxation to Punjab and Haryana was given from mandatory use of PFMS for payments to farmers and other vendors.
Excess production during last three sugar seasons 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 has been continuously depressing the ex-mill price of sugar. This has adversely affected the realization on sale of sugar resulting in accumulation of cane price arrears of farmers for these sugar seasons. The Government took following measures for sugar season 2019-20 in addition to the ongoing measures taken during previous sugar seasons:
Notified a scheme on 31.07.2019 for creation and maintenance of buffer stock of 40 LMT of sugar for a period of one year from 1st August, 2019 to 31st July, 2020 for which Government is reimbursing carrying cost of Rs.1674 crore towards maintenance of buffer stock.
With a view to facilitate export of sugar during the sugar season 2019-20, the Government vide notification dated 12.09.2019 has notified a scheme for providing assistance to sugar mills to meet expenses on export of 60 LMT of sugar to the extent of Maximum Admissible Export Quantity (MAEQ) for sugar season 2019-20. Under the scheme, Government would be providing a lump sum assistance @ Rs.10448/MT to sugar mills to facilitate export in sugar season 2019-20 for which an estimated expenditure of Rs 6268 Cr would be borne by Govt.
The Government has allowed production of ethanol from sugar and sugar syrup for ethanol supply year 2019-20 (December, 2019 – November, 2020) and has fixed the remunerative ex-mill price of ethanol.
As a result of above measures, all India cane price arrears of farmers have also came down to Rs. 242 crore from the peak arrears of about Rs. 23232 crore for sugar season 2017-18; for sugar season 2018-19 Rs.534 from total dues of Rs.86723 and for sugar season 2019-20 is came down of Rs.3574 from total dues of Rs.75845.
Production of Hand-sanitizer
Keeping in view the crucial role of sanitizer in the fight against COVID-19 and on the recommendation of CoS, DFPD coordinated with industry and State Governments to encourage the industry to produce hand sanitizer.912 distilleries/independent manufacturers were accorded permissions to produce hand sanitizer. Installed capacity for production of hand sanitizer increased substantially to 30 lakh liters per day. As on 08.12.2020, around 4.04 crore liters of hand sanitizer has been produced.
Diversion of excess sugar to ethanol and Augmentation of Ethanol Production Capacity under Ethanol Blended with Petrol (EBP) Programme
The Central Government, in its National Bi-Fuel Policy, 2018, mandated for 10% blending of ethanol into motor fuel by 2022 and 20% by 2030. Accordingly, DFPD notified schemes for providing assistance through interest subvention on loans advanced by commercial banks for installation of new distillery project and expansion of existing capacity with zero liquid discharge system. A separate window of one month was also opened for the distilleries/sugar mills, who could not avail the benefit of interest subvention schemes notified earlier. With this ethanol production capacity has reached to 426 crore lite in 2020-21 and 520 crore liters expected by March 2022.A web portal has been launched for online submission of loan applications for availing various loans provided under Sugar Development Fund by the Sugar Mills.
National Sugar Institute
A MoU was signed between National Sugar Institute, Kanpur and National Sugar Development Council, Nigeria for setting up of a Sugar Institute at Nigeria.
Asian Sugar Conference 2020 was also organized by the Institute during the period. Lectures on important topics related to sugar quality, consumption patterns & value addition were delivered by eminent experts from Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Iran and India.
Food Corporation of India
Construction of Steel Silos:
Silos with capacity of 1 LMT at Sangrur has been operational and put to use and railway siding has been completed at Barnala of 0.50 LMT. Letter of Commencement for construction of Silo has been issued for 5 locations (2.50 LMT) at Sahnewal (PB), Chhehreata (PB), Jalalabad (PB), Amreli (Guj) and Palanpur&Siddhpur (Guj). Concession Agreement signed for 1 location (0.50 LMT) and Letter of Award has been issued for 5 locations (2.50 LMT) in West Bengal.
Private Entrepreneurs Guarantee Scheme (PEG):
During the period from January 2020 to October 2020, capacity of 0.42 LMT has been constructed under PEG Scheme.
Central Sector Scheme “Storage & Godowns” 2017-22:
A capacity of 2500 MT has been materialized/created and put to use at Churachandpur under RO Manipur by FCI.
At Zunhebhoto(5000 MT capacity), Nagaland under Central Sector Scheme “Storage & Godown” land measuring 2.99 acres has been taken over on lease by GM (R), FCI on 24.09.2020.
Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC)
CWC is in the process of installing CCTV surveillance system in a phase-wise manner. 387 locations have already been covered under CCTV surveillance system.
14 Central Warehouses have been got declared to function as Market sub-yards and be linked with eNAM facility in Telangana besides 23 already declared in AP.
24 warehouses notified as Trade Area in Haryana under the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020. 01 Warehouse in Puducherry also got declared as Trade Area.
Direct Port Entry (DPE) facility inaugurated inTuticorin in Oct, 2020 on the lines of facility being operated at Tiruvottiyur.
The four new warehouse opened under Guwahati Region- i) Assam – Azara open yard – 8333 MT (Open Const.) ii) Manipur – Bishnupur – 333 MT (Hired), iii) Manipur – Khabesoi – 2083 MT (Open Hired) and Guwahati – Jonai – 2334 MT (Hired)
Central Rail-side Warehouse Company Ltd
Additional Railside Warehouse Complex (RWC) at Fatuha (Bihar) with warehousing capacity of 20400 MT was commissioned in the month of July and operations have started. The construction of RWC at Mancheshwar (Orissa) with warehousing capacity of 9500 MT was started in Oct. 2020 which is expected to be completed by Sept. 2021. The approval for development of two more Railside Warehouse Complexes at Gandhidham (Gujarat) of 15000 MT capacity and at Sankrail (West Bengal) of 13500 MT capacity has been received from Railways.
The mechanization of handling operations has been commenced at RWC Shakurbasti by installation of 10 conveyor belt machines and mechanized sweeping was also started at this warehouse.
E-payment gateway has been implemented through HDFC for ease of business for the customers. The payments are received from the payment gateways. All payment are also being made through digital mode.
CRWC has received approval from Arunachal Pradesh state Govt. for setting up of Farm Gate Logistics at three places with 100% financial assistance from the State Govt.
Storage of fully compressed cotton bales for Cotton Corporation of India was started in Nov. 2020 giving additional revenue to CRWC.