Govt to abolish storage agent arrangement from April 1

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Bhubaneswar: Taking forward the reform process in the public distribution system (PDS), the state government on Thursday decided to abolish storage agent arrangement from April 1, the Utkal Divas Day.

This was decided at a high level meeting chaired by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. After abolition of 863 storage agents spread over the state, the government would assign the job of stocking public distribution items to state run Orissa Civil Supply Corporation, official sources said.

The move came in view of the recommendations made by Justice D P Wadhwa Committee on reform measures in the PDS.

Storage agents in various parts were accused of manipulation.

"The corporation will set up stocking centres in all 314 blocks of the state and appoint personnel for the job," Food and Civil Supplies minister Sarda Prasad Nayak told reporters.

The state government had been in consultation with the NIC for computerisation of all the stocking centres to adopt e-governance system in PDS, Nayak said adding additional manpower would be required to man the jobs of storage agents.

With computerised system, one can easily verify stock position in any remote centre, the minister said.

Stating that about Rs 336 crore would be spent on reforming the PDS, he said in first phase of the reform, storage agent arrangement would be abolished from Utkal Diwas.

With the state run PSU doing the job, there were least chances of corruption in the PDS, he said.

This apart, the government was also mulling to set up a model fair price shop in all the 6,000 odd gram panchayats to enable people to benefit from the new arrangement, he said.

However, there was apprehension that the corporation could face difficulties in running the public distribution system as it had already been doing procurement of paddy and other crops from the farmers.

In tribal and inaccessible areas, the corporation would ensure that the people get their PDS items at the door step by transporting items by mobile PDS vans.

The minister said that by accepting Wadhwa Committee report in toto, the state government has to reduce about half of the existing 30,000 fair price shops.

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