Poverty & Inequality

A review of the coverage of PDS

  • Blog Post Date 19 August, 2020
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Reetika Khera

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

reetika@hss.iitd.ac.in

The coverage of the Public Distribution System (PDS) has been of wide interest due to the pandemic and lockdown. Based on government data sources, Khera and Somanchi estimate the state-wise coverage of PDS and map the categories of food support. They find that despite the expansion of PDS with the enactment of the National Food Security Act, and state ‘top-ups’ beyond central support, over 400 million people are excluded from it.

The Public Distribution System (PDS) has emerged as a key public intervention for social support and food security in India since the sudden and stringent lockdown was announced by the central government from 24 March 2020 to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the pandemic has helped many sceptics and critics of the PDS appreciate its vital role in providing basic food security for millions of Indians, it has also highlighted that much more needs to be done. At the time of the debate around the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, some key demands related to food schemes were not incorporated in the Act. This includes a universal PDS (where everyone will be entitled to subsidised food), inclusion of nutritious items such as pulses and edible oil in the PDS basket, setting up community kitchens, and so on. This post maps PDS coverage and entitlements, to document how many people are excluded from it.

Though the demand for universalisation was rejected, the NFSA, 2013 did expand the reach of the PDS. The NFSA, 2013 mandated that 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population shall be provided subsidised grain through the PDS. There are two ‘entitled’ categories of ration cards under the NFSA – Priority and Antyodaya (poorest of the poor) (‘NFSA cards’). As per NFSA norms, among Priority households, each member is entitled to 5 kgs of grain per month at Rs. 2/kg for wheat and Rs. 3/kg for rice. Antyodaya households get 35 kg/month at the same price, irrespective of family size.

The national coverage ratios of 75% and 50% in rural and urban areas, respectively, were converted into state-wise ratios, with poorer states getting higher coverage than richer states. In several cases, state governments felt that their coverage ratio under the NFSA was too low. Some states already ran an ‘expanded PDS’, covering more people than the Centre provided for (see Khera 2011); in others, there was pressure to go beyond NFSA coverage. States where an expanded PDS was in place pre-NFSA, were opposing the NFSA. To bring them on board, a provision of ‘tide-over’ rations at APL (above poverty line) prices (Rs. 6.10/kg for wheat and Rs. 8.30/kg for rice) was made1. Such states decided to issue ration cards that entitled cardholders to subsidised grain either using tide-over rations and/or state resources. This includes most southern states, and interestingly, poorer states such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and West Bengal (more on this below). Post-NFSA, if a state goes beyond NFSA norms, in terms of population covered, it is classified as having an ‘expanded PDS’. Thus, the practice of running an expanded PDS has continued even after the implementation of the NFSA.

Another source of inter-state variation in the operations of the PDS is that several states decided to provide additional subsidy, through lower prices than the centrally mandated NFSA prices. Thus, in Tamil Nadu, rice is provided free by the state to all entitled cardholders, even though the state purchases it at Rs. 3/kg for NFSA cards and at a higher price for non-PHH (Priority households). Similarly, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Odisha provide rice at a lower price than the central government’s issue price.

A third variation (not discussed here) is in the basket of commodities that are provided through the PDS. Grain is provided by the Centre, but most states now provide salt, and a handful of states provide dal and edible oil using state resources2. Thus, even while the PDS in most states is compatible with the framework of the NFSA, 2013, many continue to have their own system.

In this post, we try to compile and reconstruct basic information on state-wise access to PDS grain: types of ration cards, entitlements of each type of ration card, and the population in possession of each type of card. We are interested in knowing what proportion of the population is entitled to grain from the PDS, what proportion of this is subsidised by the Centre as per the NFSA, and which states additionally subsidise some part of the population. Before concluding, we provide some information on a few PDS-related measures undertaken by the states during the lockdown. This basic information – which should be readily available – is in fact, not easy to compile for all states. The main sources of data that we use are government publications and portals. We rely (as much as possible) on state PDS portals as they provide the most comprehensive and detailed information. At times, however, this had to be supplemented with information from newspaper reports, government circulars, researchers, activists, and others as they were aware of the latest changes.

PDS coverage and entitlements

According to the Monthly Foodgrain Bulletin (MFB), using 2011 population Census and the centrally mandated coverage ratios, 810 million people should have been subsidised by the NFSA. Three separate government data sources suggest that PDS coverage through NFSA cards (Priority and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY)) currently matches this figure: MFB for June 2020 (813 million), the central government’s public NFSA dashboard (808 million), and data compiled from PDS portals of individual states (809 million)3.

The ‘real-time’ Annavitaran portal (for June 2020) suggests the central government covers only 753 million people, but it does not include data from Assam, Delhi, Meghalaya, and Punjab possibly due to data-sharing issues between state portals and the integrated national portal.

Using a projected total population of 1,372 million for 2020, 809 million is merely 59% of the population, lower than the two-thirds required by the NFSA (see Table 1). It falls short of the legally mandated coverage by over 100 million (unpublished estimates by Jean Drèze, Reetika Khera, and Meghana Mungikar; see IndiaSpend, 2020). The reason for this under-coverage is that the central government uses outdated 2011 population Census figures to fix PDS coverage.

As mentioned earlier, some states decided to go beyond the central NFSA norms and contribute from their own resources to run an expanded PDS. Households possessing non-NFSA ration cards with grain entitlements are categorised here under two heads: one, ‘NFSA Equivalent Entitlements or More’ (NEEM), that is, those who have access to subsidised grain as per NFSA norms (at the same as, or lower than, NFSA prices)4. Two, households with ‘Lesser Entitlements as against NFSA’ (LEAN) ration cards. Their entitlements are lower than NFSA ration cards and the issue prices are usually higher than NFSA prices, but often lower than market prices (APL cardholders in Himachal Pradesh is one example of this).

If we include the NEEM population, an additional 90 million people enjoy access to NFSA entitlements from the PDS (see Table 1, row D). This increases the overall PDS coverage to 899 million people, of which 10% are NEEM cardholders. In addition to this, 51 million people have LEAN ration cards (Table 1, rows E). Including them further increases PDS coverage to 950 million (69% of the projected population for 2020). Another 87 million (6% of the population) have non-food ration cards, which presumably serve primarily to buy kerosene and as identity cards.

Table 1. All-India access to the Public Distribution System: A snapshot

Sl.

Indicator

People (millions)

Share of population 2020 (%)

Details

A

Total projected population, 2020

1,372

100

Based on 2011 Census data and mid-decade birth and death rates

B

Projected population ought to be covered by PDS mandated by NFSA

922

67

The weighted average of mandated NFSA coverage as per Census 2011

C

People covered by NFSA ration cards

809

59

Priority cards (5 kgs/person/month) and Antyodaya (35 kgs per card), at Rs. 2 & 3 per kg for wheat and rice, respectively

D

People covered by ‘NFSA Equivalent Entitlements or More’ (NEEM) ration cards

90

7

Same (or more) entitlements as NFSA ration cards at same (or lower) prices

E

People covered by ‘Lesser Entitlements as against NFSA’ (LEAN) ration cards

51

4

Lower entitlements and higher prices than NFSA ration cards

F

Total people covered by NFSA or NEEM ration cards

899

66

C + D

G

Total people with access to food through PDS

950

69

C + D + E

Notes: Ideally, the estimate for population ought to be covered by NFSA (row B) should be a weighted average of 75% coverage in rural areas and 50% in urban areas using population projections for 2020; however, as reliable projections for rural-urban population for 2020 are not available, our estimate is likely to be an overestimate since the share of the urban population (with lower coverage under NFSA) has increased in the past decade.

Sources: Rows A and B are unpublished estimates by Jean Drèze, Reetika Khera, and Meghana Mungikar based on projection from 2011 Census data, using mid-decade state-wise birth and death rates to infer population growth (see IndiaSpend, 2020). Rows C-E are compiled from PDS portals of individual states.

Who bears the cost?

Based on data from PDS portals of individual states and information in the MF B, Table 2 categorises states into three groups. The first category is states that only rely on central grain allocations under NFSA (column A). The second category are states that run an expanded PDS using the tide-over grain that they receive from the Centre (B1). The third category comprises states with an expanded PDS that rely only on state resources (B2). Within the expanded PDS, cardholders may have NEEM or LEAN entitlements.

As mentioned above, a handful of states have been getting wheat and rice at Rs. 6.10/kg and Rs. 8.30/kg respectively (these are the pre-NFSA APL rates) as tide-over grain. These states include states of Northeast India, hilly states like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand, and all southern states except Karnataka. Some are ‘special category states’ whereas the southern states had an expanded PDS before the NFSA. The provision of tide-over rations was made to help them maintain pre-NFSA status-quo coverage, post NFSA (in most other states, PDS coverage expanded as a result of the enactment of the law). Where states use tide-over allocations, the cost of running an expanded PDS is shared by the Centre and states if those covered by it are NEEM households (as in Tamil Nadu), and it is borne by the Centre if they get non-NFSA entitlements (for example, in Himachal Pradesh). When no tide-over rations allocated to the states, but the state still runs an expanded PDS (for example, Chhattisgarh), the extra cost is borne entirely by the states.

Table 2. Classification of states based on state and central subsidy

(A) NFSA PDS
(Central subsidy only)

(B) Expanded PDS

(1) With central contribution

(2) Without central contribution

NEEM

LEAN

NEEM

LEAN

Assam

Andhra Pradesh

Goa

Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh

Bihar

Kerala

Himachal Pradesh

Maharashtra

Karnataka

Delhi

Tamil Nadu

Jammu & Kashmir

Odisha

West Bengal

Gujarat

Telangana

Kerala

West Bengal

Haryana

Uttarakhand

Jharkhand

Madhya Pradesh

Punjab

Rajasthan

Uttar Pradesh

Coverage (millions)

64

26

26

25

Notes:

(i) When PDS coverage in a state is within NFSA norms, it is classified under column A.

(ii) If a state goes beyond NFSA norms, in terms of population covered, it is classified as having an 'expanded PDS'.

(iii) If a state running an expanded PDS is allocated ‘tide-over’ rations (at Rs. 6.10/kg for wheat and Rs. 8/kg rice), it is put under column B1.

(iv) If a state runs an expanded PDS without receiving tide over rations from the central government, it is classified under column B2.

(v) B1 and B2 states are further classified as NEEM or LEAN depending on the entitlements of those who are covered by the expanded PDS. NFSA Equivalent Entitlements or More (NEEM) cardholding households enjoy the same entitlements as NFSA cardholders. Lower Entitlements as against NFSA (LEAN) cardholding households get some grain (varies by state) at prices that are higher than NFSA prices, but lower than market prices.

(vi) Union Territories are not included in this table.

(vii) Northeast Indian states are excluded from the table. All except Manipur get tide-over rations. Information on whether these translate into NEEM or LEAN entitlements was not publicly available except for Sikkim and Tripura (included in column B1 coverage for LEAN).

(viii) In Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, there is a state contribution as the PDS price charged to NFSA cardholders is lower than NFSA prices.

(ix) Andhra Pradesh and Telangana receive a small fraction of their total allocation as tide-over grains (1% and 3% respectively). However, wheat is allocated as tide-over grain in these rice-eating states. We classify them under expanded PDS with central support because they get tide-over grains, but it is possible that the expanded PDS is funded by the state.

(x) Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and West Bengal appear under both NEEM and LEAN because different population groups have different entitlements within the same state. (xi) In Maharashtra, the status of APL card holders is not clear. The sub-category of ‘APL farmer’ cards are counted as NEEM cards. Other APL cardholders are either LEAN or non-food households. We have counted them as non-food cards.

Sources: State PDS portals and Monthly Foodgrain Bulletin (June 2020).

Table 3 (column D) presents state-wise coverage by the Centre under NFSA norms (‘NFSA cards’). It appears that some states do not meet the NFSA coverage requirements even as per 2011 population figures. According to the NFSA, for instance, 3.68 million people in Himachal Pradesh (54% of its 2011 population) should have NFSA cards; according to the data available, it appears that only 2.8 million are covered by the central government’s subsidy5. The overall coverage in the state is high (98%) nevertheless, because the state uses tide-over rations for APL card holders (sold at higher prices than NFSA).

In the case of Gujarat, four ration cards are reported to be in circulation: Antyodaya, BPL (below poverty line), APL-1, and APL-2. Of these, the first two get entitlements as per AAY and Priority, respectively. We count these two types of cards as NFSA cards (including 1.4 million BPL cards that are classified as non-NFSA on the state food portal)6; all of them receive central subsidy. As far as APL-1 are concerned, some of them (15.6 million) are classified as NFSA APL-1 – we assume that they are given grain as per Priority household entitlements, and include them among those who receive central subsidy. The case of Gujarat shows how the information collated here needs to be taken as the best possible available, rather than the ‘single source of truth’ – no such single source seems to exist.

Table 3 (columns F and H) also presents details of additional PDS coverage beyond NFSA norms. The states which subsidise people at their own cost through NEEM cards (column F), using central tide-over rations, include all southern states except Karnataka. In these states, between 31-45% of those who have access to the PDS have NEEM cards. In contrast, the subsidy enjoyed by NEEM cardholders in West Bengal (24%), Chhattisgarh (10%), Maharashtra (6%), and Odisha (2%) is borne entirely by the state7.

However, grey areas and ambiguities remain. For instance, in Tamil Nadu, there are five types of ration cards: PHH, Antyodaya households (PHH-AAY), non-priority households (NPHH), non-priority sugar households (NPHH-S), and non-priority no commodity (NPHH-NC) ration cards. Of these, the last do not get any PDS commodities, whereas NPHH-S (also known as ‘sugar cards’) have opted to receive all non-rice PDS commodities. In this case, we have included NPHH-S as NEEM as they have self-selected out of getting rice. All of them together account for 85% of the projected population for 2020.

Table 3. State-wise coverage of the Public Distribution System

States

Projected population 2020 (millions)

NFSA coverage ratios (%)

Mandatory NFSA coverage per 2020 population (million)

Persons covered by NFSA cards (million)

Estimated NFSA under-coverage (million)

Persons with NEEM cards a (million)

Share of population with NFSA or NEEM cards (%)

Share of population with LEAN cards a (%)

[A]

[B]

[C]

[D]

[E=C-D]

[F]

[G=(D+F)/A]

[H]

All India

1,371.7

67

921.9

809

112.9

90

66

4

Andaman & Nicobar Islands

0.4

17

0.06

0.06

0.0

0

15

77

Andhra Pradesh

53.8

54

29.2

26.8

2.4

15.2

78

0

Arunachal Pradesh

1.55

63

1

0.9

0.1

0

55

6

Assam

35.6

81

28.8

24.9

3.9

0

70

0

Bihar

124.9

84

104.8

87.3

17.5

0

70

0

Chandigarh *

1.15

47

0.5

0.3

0.2

-

25

-

Chhattisgarh

29.3

79

23

19.4

3.6

2.0

73

13

Dadra & Nagar Haveli

0.41

69

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

52

0

Delhi

18.6

43

8.1

7.1

1.0

0

38

0

Goa

1.54

36

0.6

0.5

0.1

0

35

51

Gujarat

68.4

63

43.4

33.6

9.8

0

49

0

Haryana

28.9

50

14.4

12.1

2.3

0

42

0

Himachal Pradesh

7.45

54

4

2.8

1.2

0

38

61

Jammu & Kashmir

13.8

59

8.2

7.2

1.0

0

52

33

Jharkhand

38.5

80

30.9

26.3

4.6

0

68

0

Karnataka

67.4

66

44.3

43.2

1.1

0

64

11

Kerala

35.5

46

16.4

15.4

1.0

10.4

73

28

Lakshadweep

0.07

34

0.03

0.02

0.01

0

32

0

Madhya Pradesh

85.2

75

64.2

54.4

9.8

0

64

0

Maharashtra

122.9

62

76.6

68.3

8.3

4.1

59

0

Manipur *

3.1

88

2.7

2.5

0.2

-

81

-

Meghalaya *

3.5

72

2.5

2.2

0.3

-

62

-

Mizoram *

1.2

65

0.8

0.7

0.1

-

57

-

Nagaland *

2.2

75

1.6

1.3

0.3

-

58

-

Odisha

46.2

78

35.9

33.3

2.6

1

74

0

Puducherry *

1.3

51

0.7

0.6

0.1

-

48

-

Punjab

30

51

15.3

13.3

2

0

45

0

Rajasthan

80.7

65

52.5

49.6

2.9

0

61

0

Sikkim

0.7

67

0.5

0.4

0.1

0

55

18

Tamil Nadu

77.9

51

39.4

36.6 c

2.8

29.5

85

0

Telangana

39.1

54

21.2

19.2

2.0

8.8

72

0

Tripura

3.9

68

2.7

2.4

0.3

0

62

32

Uttar Pradesh

237

76

180.6

150

30.6

0

63

0

Uttarakhand

11.1

61

6.8

6.1

0.7

0

56

42

West Bengal

99.6

66

65.6

60.2

5.4

19.2

80

14

Notes: (i) For more details on NEEM and LEAN ration cards, see Table 1 and text.

(ii) * implies that information on population covered by NEEM and LEAN ration cards was not publicly available.

(iii) In the case of Kerala, total coverage (columns G+H) adds up to 101% because the projected population may be lower than the actual population.

(iv) Of the 36.6 million, 1.9 million are ‘sugar cards’.

Sources: Columns A and C are based on calculations by Jean Drèze, Reetika Khera, and Meghana Mungikar (see Table 1 sources); column B is from the Monthly Foodgrain Bulletin; actual NFSA coverage in 2020 (column D) is based on data compiled from state PDS portals except for Chandigarh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry where data is taken from the NFSA dashboard (state portals did not provide these figures). Columns F and H are also compiled from state PDS portals.

Covid pandemic and lockdown-related measures

With the rise of Covid cases around March 2020 and the resulting health emergency, the Indian government imposed a strict national lockdown. That created a humanitarian crisis, in which the PDS has played a crucial supportive role. As mentioned at the beginning, it also exposed the inadequacies in the coverage of the PDS.

In response to this, some states have issued temporary or permanent ration cards. This includes the provision of e-coupons in Delhi to approximately 5.4 million people8. People were asked to apply online and Aadhaar9 was compulsory in this application process. The status of such e-coupons beyond May is unclear.

According to tweets by Rajasthan Chief Minister, 4.6 million people who did not have ration cards with grain entitlements (primarily APL card holders, but also those without ration cards) were provided 10 kgs of free grain in the month of May. Delhi and Rajasthan are supposed to have used the Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS) under which the central government allowed states to buy as much grain as they like at Rs. 21/kg for wheat and Rs. 22/kg for rice. Again, comprehensive information on such interventions, and the procedure used to identify new beneficiaries, is not readily available.

In Odisha, the food minister tweeted that during the lockdown, 237,000 new people were included in the PDS through the State Food Security Scheme (included in the coverage figures reported in Table 2). Some of these were people who had been knocked off due to Aadhaar-related issues. However, the state also used its ration card management system to issue cards to those who had applied in the past. These earlier applications are treated as a waitlist by the state government (Bisoyi 2020)10.

In a few states (including Odisha and Tamil Nadu), the network of PDS outlets was also used to disburse relief money (Rs. 1,000 per ration card) as cash in hand (Drèze and Khera 2020).

There is a small but important lesson regarding the use of technology in the PDS. States like Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have used their digitised ration card management system to put in place a mechanism for continuous updating of the ration-card database (see Drèze et al. 2019). Such decentralised systems of application and issue of ration cards should be explored, adapted and expanded to other states as well11.

Concluding remarks

According to our calculations, with 900 million people getting PDS coverage as per NFSA norms, and 51 million getting less support than NFSA norms from the PDS, over 400 million are left to manage without any food support from the government.

This contradicts the government’s claim of over 1 billion being covered by the PDS. On 4 June, according to a Press Information Bureau (PIB) press release, an additional (over and above NFSA coverage) 250 million individuals have access to state PDS. It stated that “Coverage of people under NFSA (about 81.3 Crore) is based on statutory provisions and enumeration under 2011 Census ... However, states do run their own Ration Card Scheme to cover such population and today more than 6 crore State Ration Cards exist to cover over 25 crore additional population over and above NFSA” (PIB, 2020).

If we add the people with NEEM cards (90 million), LEAN cardholders (51 million), and non-food ration card holders (87 million), this only brings us to 228 million (22.8 crores). However, since the last category has no foodgrain entitlements, non-NFSA card holders with grain entitlements are only 141 million (14.1 crores). From the PIB press release, it is not clear how they get a figure of additional state coverage of 250 million (25 crore) people.

Even while the central government has been in denial about the need to expand PDS coverage, state-level initiatives before (even during the lockdown), to expand the PDS beyond NFSA coverage norms, suggest the problem of under-coverage and exclusion is well recognised. Many of the excluded 400 million are poor people.

The Centre has been lethargic in acting on the long-term and short-term options to improve food cover for those vulnerable to hunger. Universalising the PDS in the poorer states (Drèze 2020), issuing more subsidised grain at tide-over prices to states that run an expanded PDS, or setting up community kitchens (Cris 2020, Kundu 2020), are some of the options before the Centre. During the lockdown, the Centre announced that 80 million ‘migrants’ would be entitled to free grain for two months (subsequently extended till November). At the end of the initial two months, few states had used this provision, primarily due to problems in identification of such persons. Instead of temporary measures, the Centre needs to issue regular NFSA cards to 80 million people (some of whom might be migrant workers without ration cards). This would bring the PDS coverage closer to what is legally mandated by the NFSA.

The current excess foodstock situation makes these options viable. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) held more than double of the buffer stock norms at the beginning of the July quarter12. States have less fiscal space than the Centre, hence, the Centre needs to take the lead. Instead of relying on tested mechanisms listed above, the central government seems intent on “One Nation, One Ration”, a possibly disruptive measure with uncertain benefits (Khera 2019, 2020). Expanding the PDS is easier than introducing portability. The past few months have made it clear that moving towards universalisation is a more urgent need than portability.

The authors thank Jean Drèze and Arkaja Singh for comments, and Pankti Jog, Sameet Panda, and Akshay Pawar for helpful clarifications.

Notes:

      1. Tide-over rations meant that these states did not suffer in terms of quantity of grain allocated to them by the Centre, and possibly some savings because some part of this grain was now provided at a lower price than before.
      2. With the introduction of direct cash transfers, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Puducherry are supposed to have discontinued distribution of foodgrain, but we know that in Puducherry at least, both cash and grain are provided.
      3. A state-wise comparison of coverage using the MFB and state portals yields roughly similar numbers in all states except Karnataka (40.2 million per MFB vs. 43.2 million per state portals) and Rajasthan (44.7 million per MFB vs 49.6 million per state portal) where state portal figures are higher than MFB.
      4. As far as we are aware, Chhattisgarh is the only state where the quantity provided exceeds the NFSA norms (under Chhattisgarh’s state food security Act people get 7kgs/month).
      5. The other three major states with such an issue are Gujarat (33.6 million actual vs. 38.3 million as per NFSA), Maharashtra (68.3 million actual vs. 70 million as per NFSA), and Uttar Pradesh (149.7 million actual vs. 152.1 million as per NFSA).
      6. Counting only NFSA-BPL beneficiaries increases the mismatch between state portal figures and MFB figures for Priority households. If we exclude the non-NFSA BPL cards, then NFSA coverage would be 32.2 million as against 33.6 million reported in Table 2 (Column D).
      7. In West Bengal, an additional 14% of the population are covered by LEAN ration cards (RKSY-2), bringing the overall PDS coverage in the state up to 94%. For Maharashtra, confirming the status of APL farmer cards that enjoy NEEM entitlements was particularly difficult. We rely on the food allocation circulars available here: https://jalna.gov.in/document-category/public-distribution-system/page/8/.
      8. Information as a press release by Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan dated 16 July 2020.
      9. Aadhaar or Unique Identification number (UID) is a 12-digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on behalf of the Government of India. It captures the biometric identity – 10 fingerprints, iris and photograph – of every resident, and is meant to serve as a proof of identity and address anywhere in India.
      10. Some were issued cards based on online complaints and alerts, see for instance, the case of Fuleswari Patra in Sundargarh.
      11. On the other hand, among the earliest measures taken in several states was to suspend the use of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA) to ensure access barriers for existing PDS beneficiaries were minimised
      12. As per the FCI website, it held nearly 96 million tonnes (MT) of grains at the end of June. The buffer stock norm for the July quarter is 41.1 MT.

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