7th Five Year Plan (Vol-2)
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20.1 In this chapter are covered some of the programmes of development which are not clearly allocable under any of the major heads of development included in previous chapters. These include the public distribution system, training, strengthening of the State Planning machinery , statistics, stationary and printing, and rehabili-tion of displaced persons. The following paragraphs give in brief the details of programmes of development in these areas to be taken up as part of the Seventh Plan.

Public Distribution System

20.2 The public distribution system (PDS) is recognised as a permanent feature of the strategy to control prices, reduce fluctuations and achieve an equitable distribution of essential goods. Since an efficient public distribution system requires a nexus between production, procurement, transportation, storage, and distribution of the selected commodities brought under the system, the Sixth Plan underlined the need for a selective approach and a certain flexibility in assessing the essentiality of commodities for public distribution. Though from the point of view of needs of the common man, cereals, sugar, edible oil, soft coke, kerosene, controlled cloth, tea, coffee, toilet and washing soaps, matchboxes, and exercise books for childern were considered such essential items, the Central Government confined its responsibility to seven commodities, viz., wheat, rice, sugar, imported edible, oil kerosene, soft coke, and controlled cloth. These seven commodities constitute the core of the public distribution system. It was, however, not considered necessary that the PDS all over the country should have a standardised list of commodities. The different regions could have different needs and preferences depending upon local circumstances, and might add to these seven commodities by arranging to procure these on their own or through the agencies nominated by them. Some State Governments have, therefore, been distributing a large number of essential commodities through fair price shops. The Central Government have also been assisting the State Governments by arrangements with manufacturers of certain commodities of mass consumption like toilet soaps, matchboxes, torch cells, razor blades, cycle tyres and tubes and in supplying these commodities at wholesale prices to the State Governments for distribution through the public distribution system. This State Governments have been advised to make full use of this facility so that consumers can have access to those commodities at reasonable prices.

20.3 The working of the PDS is periodically reviewed in consultation with the State Governments and corrective measures are taken from time to time to improve the supply of various essential commodities to the consumers. At the Centre, an Advisory Council on Public Distribution System has been constituted to review its working from time to time. For supervision over the public distribution system all the States have, on the suggestion of the Central Government, set up Consumers' Advisory Committees at district and tehsil levels in some form or the other. The States have also been asked to strengthen their administrative infrastructure for improving the PDS. As a result of effective implementation, essential commodities are reaching the weaker sections of society. For example, during 1983-84 the PDS had a definite stablis-ing impact on the prices of all the items.

20.4 Expansion of the public distribution system has been made an important point of action in the new 20-Point Programme. Special emphasis is being given to increasing the number of fair price shops in the hitherto under-served and unserved areas and on organising mobile shops in far-flung regions. The main thrust o1 expansion is in the rural areas with special attention tc remote and inaccessible areas, so that the public distribution system becomes supplementary to the poverty alleviation programme.

20.5 The total number of fair price shops has increasec from 2.39 lakhs in March, 1979 to 3.15 lakhs in January, 1985. The volume of sales through the public distribution system has increased from 17.94 million tonnes in 1979 tc 24.77 million tonnes in 1984.

20.6 After detailed discussions with the State/UT representatives, outlays of Rs. 41.21 crores and Rs. 2.8C crores have been allocated for the States and UTs respectively under the States'/UT's plans for Civil Supplies. In addition, an outlay of Rs. 2.50 crores has beer made in the Central Plan for strengthening the public distribution system.

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