The government of Maharashtra has begun taking baby steps towards shutting down of the ration shops and the public distribution system (PDS). This system will be replaced by the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) which means that direct cash will be transferred to the accounts of the underprivileged which they can use for buying food. Two projects have begun at Azad Maidan and Mahalaxmi areas of Mumbai.
Cash Not Food For Underprivileged
The government has also announced welfare delivery services based on linking of the Aadhaar card for DBT. The initial project has been handed to the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-Pal) along with a signed memorandum reports the Free Press Journal. This lab is affiliated to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The beneficiary who gets grains, sugar and kerosene, can now consider the Direct Benefit Transfer (cash) and Direct Benefit Transfer (kind). The beneficiary has to opt for either of the DBTs, cash or kind,” says the state government’s proposal.
The activists like Anna Adhikar Abhiyan are opposed to DBT. “The reason PDS was started, was the likelihood of earning male member of the poor families and in rural areas being most susceptible to addictions. They will misuse that money and it then becomes a big hurdle for the women of the household to get any money to purchase food for their survival. By getting subsidised food, there is a guarantee, the women and children at least get small meals each day,” said Nawab Malik, the spokesperson of Nationalist Congress Party reports the Free Press Journal. “There were attempts by this government to introduce a similar system before, which we struck down,” he added.