PDS/ Ration/ Food Security
The Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, Delhi, which is a network of about thirty organisations, conducted a study entitled Survey on Preference between PDS and Cash Transfers in Delhi (http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/reports-documents
/survey-preference-between-pds-and-cash-transfers-delhi) in the backdrop of Delhi Government suggesting dismantling of the PDS in favour of a system of direct cash transfers/smart card system. The Delhi Government in partnership with SEWA and IDF did a pilot study with 100 families in Raghubir Nagar to test the feasibility and effectiveness of such a programme. After submitting Rs 1,000 in the bank accounts of the women members of each of selected households in the sample, a study was done to compare between families who opt for cash and those who prefer the ration system. Antyodaya cardholders get Rs 1,100 per month, while below poverty line cardholders get Rs 950 per month as cash transfers in the pilot study done by Delhi Government.
While the results of this pilot study are awaited, the Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, Delhi conducted a survey in different parts of Delhi so as to understand people’s preference between PDS and cash transfer. It may be recalled from media reports that when the pilot survey was being conducted by the Delhi Government with funding from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), several NGOs including Parivartan led by Arvind Kejriwal opposed it.
Key findings of the study done by Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, Delhi:
Preference between reformed PDS and cash transfers
• Only 27 per cent of the respondents were aware of the Government's proposal of replacing the PDS with cash transfers. Given a choice between a reformed and improved (“sudhar”) PDS or cash transfers in lieu of PDS foodgrains, over 90 per cent of the respondents in the sample said that they would prefer a reformed PDS over cash transfer, while 5 per cent felt the other way round. 3.6 per cent had no opinion. 94.5 percent of BPL respondents, 90.1 percent of APL respondents and 91.7 percent of respondents among Antyodaya card holders prefer improved and reformed PDS over cash transfers. 3.6 percent of BPL respondents, 7 percent of APL respondents and 5.8 percent of respondents among Antyodaya card holders prefer cash transfers over reformed PDS
• It is mainly the daily wage earning households (almost 92.4 per cent) who preferred PDS over cash, while 90.4 percent of the salaried preferred the same
Type of Ration Card
• Of all the respondents, 17.3 per cent had no ration cards and for 3 per cent the type of ration card was not known. 40 per cent of the respondents had Above Poverty Line (APL) cards, 24 per cent had (Below Poverty Line) BPL cards, 10 per cent had (Antyodaya) AAY cards, 2 per cent had Annapurna cards and 4 per cent had temporary cards. Among those who did not have any cards were also those who earlier had a ration card but it was cancelled recently.
• It is seen that while there were more number of BPL card holders among the daily wage labourers, only 31.5 per cent of daily wage earners had BPL cards. 22.9 per cent of salaried households also had BPL cards. A large number of households headed by a self-employed person had no cards at all.
Access to PDS
• Of those who had some kind of a ration card, 59.5 per cent said that they received rations regularly, while 23.1 per cent said that rations were supplied in an irregular manner and 15.8 per cent had no access to rations in spite of having a ration card.
• Regarding the quantity of foodgrains received from the PDS, only 37.4 per cent said that they got the entire 35kg of foodgrains the last time they bought rations (a small percentage reported getting more than 35kg – this is probably because they got some of their previous month’s quota as well due to irregular functioning of ration shops). 22.5 per cent of the respondents got between 26 to 34kg and 30.8 per cent got between 15 to 25kg.
• Among BPL card holders about half reported getting 35kg or more, whereas among APL card holders this figure is only about 20 per cent.
• There were various reasons for not accessing rations, most common (29.9 per cent) being that the card was not ‘stamped’.
• About 17 per cent said that they did not have access to rations because their collection of their biometrics was due. 8.2 per cent of the respondents said that their ration card had been cancelled and a further 15.7 per cent that their ration cards had not been reissued after expiry. 22.2 per cent said that the dealer refuses to give them any ration and about 7 per cent that the PDS shop was always closed.
• Various suggestions for improvement of PDS were discussed with the people, ranging from action to be taken against fair price shop (FPS) dealers for malfunctioning to transparency and redressal measures. Most people agreed with all these suggestions. Interestingly, 87.4 per cent of the respondents also agreed with the suggestion that PDS should be universalised and there should be no distinction between those above poverty line and below poverty line. In the discussions it was clear that what people were most bothered with was the process of identification of BPL and the struggle to get included in the BPL list.
Uses of Ration Card
• Even though ration is not regular, people use the ration card for many different purposes. For instance, almost three quarters of the respondents said that the ration card is useful as an identity card. A large proportion felt that the ration card is useful to access other Government schemes, to get an electric connection, to get a driving license, to open a bank account etc. The other purposes that people felt the ration card was useful for included getting Government health services, school admissions, a pan card or passport, for entering into a new job, mobile connection and even getting a birth certificate.