Dumka rail boost to PDS supplies

Ranchi, April 9: Supply of foodgrains and other essential commodities through the public distribution system (PDS) is likely to improve in Santhal Pargana with a new rail siding in Dumka giving a boost to transportation.

While the first rake of foodgrains arrived in Dumka on March 27, the second reached on April 6.

So long PDS in Santhal Pargana was solely dependent on a rail siding at Jasidih, Deoghar, which is often faced with severe traffic congestion.

The rail siding at Sahebganj too had remained virtually defunct for several years because its weighbridge is out of order.

“The state’s monthly foodgrain allotment is 1.5 lakh metric tonne. But we have not been able to utilise them fully in the absence of transportation and storage facilities. Now that the rail siding at Dumka has become functional, the problems being faced in Santhal Pargana have been solved to a considerable extent. We have already approached the Centre to set up godowns at Madhupur (Deoghar) and Lohardaga rail sidings and install a new weighbridge in Sahebganj,” said food and civil supplies secretary A.K. Singh.

He pointed out the existing storage capacity of Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns in Jharkhand was 1.30 lakh metric tonne against the requirement of 6 lakh metric tonne, which was another important reason behind irregular supplies.

FCI has already been provided a godown in Simdega that will start functioning at the turn of this month.

The state administration intends to improve the storage capacity by 70,000 to 80,000 metric tonne every year and attain the targets during the twelfth five-year plan period (2012-17).

“Foodgrain supplies through PDS in Simdega so long came from Gumla and other adjoining districts. Now that a godown will soon become functional there, regular supplies could be taken care largely. We have already introduced online allocations in Ranchi, Dhanbad and Simdega districts. This will be gradually expanded to other districts during the current fiscal,” the food and civil supplied secretary added.

Replying to another question, he said the Centre had already approved end-to-end computerisation of PDS in Jharkhand.

Groundwork for the project that involves expenses to the tune of Rs 159 crore is likely to begin soon. The department also intends to introduce electronic cash transfer, automate stock issue order, simplify foodgrain procurement during the current fiscal.

“Last fiscal, we fully achieved the targets under Annapurna and Antyodaya schemes. But the additional 11 lakh BPL families identified by the administration did have numerous complains. Our performances in Sahebganj, Bokaro, Simdega, Giridih and Deoghar were not satisfactory. Now that we have decided to introduce corrective measures, including filling job vacancies, things will improve soon,” Singh added.