Abolish private fair price shops, says SC panel

Describing the Public Distribution System (PDS) as the "most corrupt system in the country", the Supreme Court-appointed Central Vigilance Committee has recommended abolition of fair price shops (FPS) being run by private individuals.

The committee, headed by Justice (retd) D P Wadhwa, has said states, through their civil supplies corporations, must take up the responsibility of ensuring that PDS foodgrain are not diverted to black markets.

"There is undoubtedly nexus between the FPS owners, transporters, bureaucrats and politicians. For this purpose it becomes essential that a Civil Supplies Corporation in the state is constituted to work as an independent body to distribute PDS foodgrain at FPS level and take over existing FPS. State Civil Supplies Corporation should open and operate the FPS," read the final report submitted in the Supreme Court.

The report said FPS could also be allotted to cooperative societies, registered women self-help groups and also to grocery shops, subject to a "necessary condition" that they must be doing other work apart from running FPS. It added that a state government, which is entrusted with the distribution of foodgrain under PDS, should act only as a regulator and the distribution should be left with the corporation, an independent body.

Pointing out that there are no fixed criteria for identification of BPL families entitled under the PDS and different states resorted to different methods of computation, the committee has also said the central government should lay down fixed criteria for BPL category. "Thereafter, steps should be taken for identification of BPL families. In that case, there should be no cap on the number of BPL families. Lists of BPL and AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana) families should be reviewed every year for the purpose of deletion and inclusion of families," it read.

The report asserted that Above Poverty Line category should be abolished since a large number of APL families did not lift their ration from FPS and it had become a source of diversion of foodgrain into the black market.

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