Centre asks Bihar to collect PDS food grain on time

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New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) The union food ministry on Thursday reviewed the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Bihar and asked the state government to ensure timely collection of food grain from Food Corporation of India warehouses.

The Bihar government was directed to upload the data of all beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) on the state’s PDS portal, official sources said here.

The directive came after a high-level central team visited Patna to review the PDS system in the state and suggest remedial measures.

The late lifting of food grain in Bihar was reported from Patna, Araria, Bhojpur, Bhagalpur and Saharsa districts, the sources said.

“It is depriving a number of beneficiaries of wheat at Rs.2 per kg and rice at Rs.3 per kg,” one of the sources said.

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After complaints of irregularities in these districts, raids were conducted at warehouses and licences of some private transporters suspended, they added.

After daylong discussions with senior Bihar officials, the central team led by joint secretary in the food ministry Deepak Kumar found that there was delay in lifting food grain in some districts, due to which ration was not distributed to intended beneficiaries on time.

The team found that the state had not uploaded the data pertaining to the NFSA beneficiaries on its PDS portal till date, which is a mandatory requirement for the allocation of highly subsidised food grain.

The team’s visit followed Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s orders in this regard after the death of Jago Manjhi reportedly “due to starvation”, the sources said.

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The death of Manjhi, 60, a Mahadalit of Sherpar village in Sheikhpura district, last month was taken up in the state assembly as well.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and other opposition parties created a pandemonium in the assembly on March 29, demanding a high-level probe into Manjhi’s death.

The Nitish Kumar government, however, said Manjhi died of ill-health and that there was nobody to take care of him.

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