In order to distribute one kg of pulses to about 20 crore households for three months in the country, a massive operation for transport and milling of pulses is underway. In order to meet the protein needs of people during this crisis, the Central government had decided to provide one kg of milled and cleaned pulses to each NFSA household for three months under the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).
Executed by NAFED under the guidance of the Department of consumer affairs of the Central government, this operation entails lifting of un-milled pulses from the godowns of Central or state warehousing corporations, getting the pulses milled or cleaned as per quality standards prescribed by FSSAI and then reaching the milled pulses to the states. Thereafter, the milled pulses are carried to state government godowns and then to PDS shops for distribution.
The millers are selected on the basis of Out Turn Ratio (OTR) bids by NAFED through online auctions. In OTR bidding, empanelled millers are required to quote percentage of milled pulses for every quintal of raw pulse considering the expenses involved in cleaning, milling, packing, transportation both inward and outward. Packing is in 50 kg bags. No milling charges paid to the millers. Millers are grouped in clusters. In producing states, locally available raw material and millers are preferred. All costs in distribution including incidental charges to ration shops are being met by the Central government.
The scale of this operation is massive and far more complex than food grain movement. Each kg of pulse goes through at least three (in many cases four) trips by truck and as many cycles of loading and unloading. While for long distances, transport is being done through goods train, in most cases transportation is by road through trucks. About 8.5 lakh MT of un-milled pulses will be moved in this process to distribute about 5.88LMT milled / cleaned pulses to citizens. Government has allowed the use of its stocks lying in about 165 NAFED godowns across the country for this scheme. Over 100 dal mills across the country have been pressed into service by NAFED so far.
Each month, 1.96 LMT of pulses are required to be distributed to NFSA households in the country through rations shops. About three-fourth of the milled / cleaned pulses (over 1.45 LMT) have already been offered to the state governments / UT administrations. The several states that have dal mills within their jurisdictions have been asked to lift the milled pulses by themselves to speed up the process.
The states and UTs have taken one-third of the monthly requirement to final destinations for distribution. 17 states and UTs, namely – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Andamans, Chandigarh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana have begun distribution.
Several other states and UTs have decided to distribute pulses along with food grain distribution in the first week of May for reasons of social distancing and public safety. While, as on date, about 30,000 MT of pluses have been distributed, but this would speed up in the first week of May. Many states / UTs, particularly the smaller ones such as Andamans, Chandigarh, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Goa, Ladakh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep and even Punjab have been provided milled / cleaned pulses for all three months in one go.
Department of Consumer Affairs has with the help of Ministry agriculture and farmers’ welfare set up five groups of officers headed by Joint Secretaries to coordinate with states and UTs, NAFED, Dal mills and warehousing corporations. Secretary, agriculture and secretary, consumer affairs have been jointly reviewing progress on a daily basis and sort out ground level bottlenecks. The Cabinet Secretary is personally monitoring the distribution on a day to day basis.
This is the first time that the department of consumer affairs is carrying such a massive operation of pulses. This operation would involve about two lakh truck trips and loading and unloading operation over a period of 4 weeks. It is ambitious in normal times but is very challenging during lockdown with many of the dal mills and godowns located in the hotspot areas. Managing operations safely in such areas is crucial. In such areas, the availability of trucks and labour for loading and unloading has been a huge problem.
Most of the beneficiaries will receive the quota for the first month within April or latest by the first week of May. Several states and UTs would be able to distribute pulses for all three months in the first go itself. For the remaining states, the efforts are being made to complete the distribution for all three months within May itself, preferably within the third week of May. Preparedness of the states and UTs was reviewed by Secretary, consumer affairs on April 24, 2020. Expressing satisfaction on the preparedness, Secretary, consumer affairs thanked the states and UTs for their cooperation and support and hoped that the distribution would be stepped up in the coming week.