The Delhi government may distribute cash instead of PDS to the Below Poverty Line households. It may not even conduct another phase of the pilot project.
Speaking to Governance Now, Dharam Pal, secretary cum commissioner, food and supply department, said that the government has short-listed few non-government organisations (NGOs) associated with the mission convergence for conducting experiment in the second phase of analysing the distribution system. But it is possible that second phase of experiment is not conducted at all. A proposal to allow distribution of cash is pending with the government and is expected to be cleared soon.
He said if implemented, the BPL card holders will be distributed cash instead of PDS, in any two districts of Delhi initially. For this their bank account number along with Aadhar card will be taken.
Delhi government, in association with an NGO, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), started a pilot project in the capital last year for providing cash subsidies in place of subsidised food grains to the poor.
In its first phase, 100 families at Raghuvir Nagar in West Delhi availed the cash transfer scheme instead of subsidised foodgrain since January 2011.
SEWA, in its study, observed that the cash transfers provided opportunity for the households to increase other nutritious options in the non-cereal segment. It said, the scheme allowed households to spend more on healthcare.
Thus it recommended that the policy should be to allow the BPL cardholder a choice of food and fuel, or cash. The BPL cardholder would be asked at the beginning of the year whether they preferred cash or food.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has announced to launch a major food security programme with monthly cash subsidy of Rs 600 to households that are not covered by either BPL scheme or Antyodaya Anna Yojana. 'Dilli Annashree Yojana' will benefit around two lakh families.