Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 26:
The Odisha government is considering expanding the scope of PDS to include edible oil and pulses, Madhusudan Padhi, secretary, Food Supply and Consumer Welfare said at the inception workshop of a project titled ‘Improving People’s Access to Information on Public Schemes and Services in Koraput and Sundargarh’ held at the New Marrion, Bhubaneshwar on Wednesday.
He further said if the number of rural people eligible to be covered under the Food Security Act exceeds the cut-off mark of 82%, the state would take responsibility of covering them from its own resources.
The four-year project is being supported by the European Union and Implemented by DanChurchAid in Partnership with Spread, Koraput, Disha, Sundargarh and the Office of the State Advisor to Commissioners of the Supreme Court on Food Rights.
Former State Information Commissioner Prof Radhamohan, retired senior administrator Aurobindo Behera, journalist Sampad Mahapatra, Gangadhar Sahu, state nodal officer-MDM, Sasank Padhi,state Manager Save the Children were among others who addressed a full house of around 100 participants drawn from different walks of life- starting from civil Society and media to government Officials.
Throwing light on the project Santosh K Padhy of the DanChurchAid said the project would aim to increase awareness among target communities to participate in the governance and implementation of the schemes/servicessuch as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Public Distribution System(PDS), Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Mid-Day Meal (MDM).
Addressing the audience, Prof Radhamohan said, such a project would bear the desired results only when the people’s organizations and the implementing development organizations ensure continuous engagement and dialogue with the various tiers of the government on the challenges faced by people while accessing the schemes and services. On the other hand, the government officials should also make enough efforts to inform people on what benefits the schemes are going to fetch to people. This will result in better incidence of benefits to people.
In his address, retired civil servant Aurobindo Behera advised the project team not to flood people with loads of information. He suggested the project team to carefully filter out only the relevant information and disseminate it and also provide facilitative support to people and ensure that people actually made use of the same. The tribals will be able to reap the benefits of the public schemes and services only when people, government and civil society closely monitor the implementation process together, he further added. Sampad Mahaptara called upon the project to initiate some kind of a knowledge sharing alliance of the grassroots workers of NGOs so that the successful strategies and approaches can be learnt and adopted by all.
Sasank Padhi of Save the Children advised the project to pay adequate attention to documenting the innovations so that the same can be built as evidences for future advocacy and large scale replication. The project offers great scope for children-sensitive social protection and would go a long way towards addressing inter-generational poverty.
Bidyut Mohanty, who welcomed the participants at the start of the deliberations, stated that one of the key components of the project is to develop select Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendras (RGSKs) as one-window citizen support centers. Abul Kalam Azad, who facilitated the post-lunch session said the project would strive hard to support the district helplines in all possible means and would try to make the grievance redressal mechanism functional.
The meeting ended with vote of thanks by Rajkishor Mishra, State Advisor to Commissioners of the Supreme Court on Food Rights.