The PDS survey, conducted by Prof Jean Dreze and Dr. Reetika Khera, happened amongst other places in Katihar. Jitendra Paswan a member of the JJSS joined the survey team for the survey period in Katihar and Barsoi blocks. The good news from the survey was that like all other places the PDS in Bihar had improved.
Five years ago, only 10% of PDS grain reached the poor, according to NSS data. In this survey, we found that BPL households were getting about half (45%) of their full quota. This is much better, but still far from satisfactory!
The sad news is Bihar was placed last amongst all the surveyed states. We have still have a long way to go and worst still our CM and Minister for Food are in favour of cash transfers. Reetika published an article in EPW based on the findings of the survey. Here is a link
As a follow up to the survey a meeting was organised with the Minister of Food Sri Shyam Rajak and it was interesting to note that despite his keen hearing of what we had to say and the ideas shared by Jean and Reetika, his stand on cash transfers seemed firm, though one would have to see what finally transpires. Jean, Reetika and JJSS held a press conference on 1st October 2011 in Patna to highlight PDS issues in Bihar and to share the findings of the survey. It was well covered in the media.