Outdated census data keep 10 cr. out of PDS: economists- THE HINDU-16-04-2020


Under the NFSA, the PDS is supposed to cover 75% of the population in rural areas and 50% of the population in urban areas, which works out to 67% of the total population, using the rural-urban population ratio in 2011. India’s population was about 121 crore in 2011 and so PDS covered approximately 80 crore people. However, applying the 67% ratio to a projected population of 137 crore for 2020, PDS coverage today should be around 92 crore. Even taking into account growing urbanisation, the shortfall would be around 10 crore people who have slipped through the cracks, said the two economists and Right to Food campaigners in a statement on Wednesday.

The biggest gaps are in Uttar Pradesh, where 2.8 crore people may have been left out, and Bihar, which would have had almost 1.8 crore people excluded from the NFSA. State-specific birth and death rates from 2016 were used to calculate the population growth rate and projected population estimates, said the statement. While the population data from the 2011 census was used to translate these ratios into absolute numbers, Right to Food activists have long argued that the numbers should have been updated using projected population figures, allowing State governments to issue new ration cards over time.

With the 2021 census process being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any proposed revision of PDS coverage using that data could now take several years. “Meanwhile, the consequences of excluding millions of people from the PDS are taking a grim turn as the coronavirus crisis devastates livelihoods across the country,” said the statement.

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