Our mandate is to provide food security to priority households

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Pandurang Pole

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the unique states in many terms. Technology helps in bridging many challenges – topography, seasonal etc., says Pandurang Pole, Secretary of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Government of Jammu and Kashmir in this interview with Elets News Network. He also talks about the mandate of the department, which is not only to meet the quantity of food supply but to maintain nutritional quality as well.

Tell us about the e-services in the Food and Civil Supplies Department of Jammu & Kashmir.

The Department of Food and Civil Supplies have started e-PDS. One of the component of the drive is Supply Chain Management. At the end of the month, closing balance of all Fair Price Shops (FPS) is automatically taken from the Point of Sale (POS) machines. Closing balance of all the FPS, through POS is aggregated at Tehsil and then at District level. For generating allocation of new month, closing balance is adjusted and allocation is made for District, Tehsil and FPS.

So far the Online Grievance Redressal mechanism is concerned, any person having complaint/grievance can lodge online complaint. He receives all updates- such as stage of his grievance and it disposal etc through SMS. He can also give feedback online.

All Ration Cards (RCs) have been digitised and integrated with e-PDS.

How is technology helping you to fulfill the responsibility of distribution of essential commodities to the people of Jammu & Kashmir?

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the unique states in many terms. There are three regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. People from these three regions speak different local languages and have different food habbit. It is one of the most diversified states.

Technology helps in bridging many challenges – topography, seasonal etc. It enables officers of the Department to monitor closely. Daily Dash Board presents statistic in understandable manner. It helps in plugging loopholes in the system by Aadhaar seeding in ration cards and issuance of ration after Aadhaar authentication.

Tell us about your schemes like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme and National Food Security Act, 2013.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the last states to join National Food Security Scheme (NFSS). The reason was that the state was apprehending lesser coverage in the NFSS that earlier targeted PDS. It is not a food surplus state like Punjab, Haryana etc. The state joined the scheme in 2016.

Around 75 percent population in rural area and 50 percent population in urban area are covered under National Food Security Act. Per person entitlement is five kg ration per month. Owing to food deficient state status, it was not sufficient. Additionally, five kg ration from the State Government scheme – Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme is provided.

You are also committed to protect and guard the interest of the consumers in the state. What are the latest steps taken in this regard?

The mandate of the department is to provide food security to priority households. The targeted population is poor or lower middle class, mostly rural. Still the basic need of this segment is food, not only quantity but nutritional quality.

Apart from use of technology, empowerment of local self government institutions- Gram Panchayat has been done. Three member Village vigilance committees under concerned Sarpanch have been constituted in every village. Mandate of the committee is to monthly review- food grain received, disbursed and balance. The committee can recommend deletion or addition of a family in subsidised ration scheme. To monitor performance of these committees, the District Collectors have been designated as District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO).

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