India’s handling of food security during the Covid crisis has been globally recognized and applauded in several international forums, including the World Trade Organization, the United Nations World Food Program and a meeting of ministers at the international level. Besides serving its own people, the government has also helped people from other nations during these crises. The remarks were made by Union Secretary, Department of Food and Public Supply, Sudhanshu Pandey, during his two-day visit to J&K, to review the functioning of the Department of Food and Supplies. civil and consumer affairs in the region.

In a meeting held at the Civil Secretariat, a detailed presentation was made by the Secretary to the FCS & CA Commissioner, Zubair Ahmad, to present the efforts of the department to make the PDS at J&K transparent, credible and reliable, where the secretary was informed that e-POS machines have been installed in all 6735 outlets of J&K, 100% Aadhar seeding has been achieved at all levels in PDS and Aadhar drawn transactions have crossed 91. He was informed that J&K ranks 9th in India in terms of number of transactions made so far under One Nation One ration card system. He was also informed that a Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed with CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd, to leverage ePoS devices to provide CSC services. 2,633 points of sale have received identifiers and 769 of them are already active.

The Secretary was briefed on WhatsApp hotline numbers, 9055224552 for Jammu and 9419600009 for Kashmir introduced by the Department. More than a million fictitious and duplicate beneficiaries have been removed from records, he was informed.

Earlier, Sudhanshu Pandey visited several Fair Price stores in Katra and Jammu and inspected their layout and facilities. He interacted with locals and took their feedback. The Secretary also inspected the New Food Store in Nagrota and suggested measures for modern management and development of the facility.

Stressing the need to dispel doubts about fortified food grains, the secretary ordered officers to organize awareness campaigns. Cereals have been fortified to provide essential nutrients to consumers and the same message must be conveyed effectively, he stressed.

Elaborating on the government’s achievements, the secretary said: ‘The Union Government is spending significant sums to ensure food security for the public. Beating global food inflation trends, the government handed out food subsidies worth Rs 5,62,000 crore last year”. Similarly, at J&K alone, the government disburses Rs. 5,000 crore worth of food grains and spends Rs. 4,000 crore as food subsidy under PMGKY and NFSA rations, he adds.

He praised the One Nation One Ration Card program and said that through this, migrant workers, seasonal workers among all other citizens can get rations anywhere in the country. He advised officers to work with the Department of Labor to conduct field surveys to encourage workers and laborers to take advantage of the program and collect rations from the concessionaire of their choice and convenience.

Sudhanshu Pandey instructed officers to encourage local sourcing of food grains. He suggested that the ministry should promote the supply of food grains to local farmers through Food Corporation of India for further distribution. This would empower farmers and reduce transport and distribution costs, which would benefit the community, he surmised.

He informed the officers of India’s green fuel mission. He explained the department’s role in the green fuels mission. “The 10% ethanol blend target has already been achieved and within the next two years the 20% concentration target would be achieved. Corn is a key ingredient in ethanol production and it could be purchased from local farmers, supporting them in return,” he explained. “Every effort should be made for the establishment of ethanol production plants and the supply of corn to farmers”, he continued and added that the residual products could be used in the sectors of poultry and livestock.

He appreciated the J&K Food and Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs department for achieving 100% Aadhar priming, over 91% Aadhar authenticated transactions and other milestones in a short time. He also appreciated the department for promoting the use of PDS database for Ayushman Bharat verification in J&K.

the Secretary to the FCS&CA Commissioner, Zubair Ahmad; Director FCS&CA Jammu, Dr. Naseem Javaid; Managing Director FCI Jammu, HS Dhaliwal; Joint Director FCS&CA Jammu, Ashok Kumar; The deputy directors of the department, among various other senior officers, were present at the meeting with the secretary.

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