Food Corporation of India to use GPS to track grain movement in the north east

To track real-time movement of vehicles carrying foodgrains meant for distribution under the public distribution system (PDS) to far-flung areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and other North-Eastern states, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will install GPS-aided vehicle-tracking systems.

The idea is to improve operational efficiency of the FCI, which distributes around 55- 60 million tonne (mt) of grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) annually.

The tracking system would provide real-time data on the volume of foodgrains loaded on the vehicles, besides providing information about any deviations from the desired route, delays, condition of stocks and any losses in route, etc, sources said. It will map the pre-defined checkpoints for the purposes of manual inspection of the en-route vehicle by the FCI, they added.

The tracking system currently being piloted is aimed at monitoring vehicles owned by private contractors used by the FCI to transport grains from the rail heads in the north-eastern states to remote areas for distribution to the PDS beneficiaries.

This would ensure transparency in the stock movement and facilitate timely intervention for ensuring that highly subsidised foodgrains are supplied to beneficiaries residing in remote locations and some of the hilly states.

The FCI moves foodgrains from surplus states such Punjab and Haryana to rail heads at the North-Eastern states. Around 70% to 80% of foodgrains distributed under the National Food Security Act is transported through rail while remote and hilly regions are served through road transport.

The economic cost of food grains procurement by the FCI, which includes expenses such as MSP payment to farmers, procurement, acquisition and distribution costs etc for rice and wheat are Rs 3,597.17 and Rs 2,499.69 per quintal, respectively in 2021-22, while the government distributes rice and wheat to beneficiaries under NFSA as Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg, respectively. The Union Budget (2022-23) has made a provision Rs 2.06 lakh crore under food subsidy in 2022-23. More than 800 million people get highly subsidised 5-kg foodgrains per head per month under the NFSA.

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