Public Distribution System (PDS)
Public distribution system means the regulated and controlled distribution of essential goods among people. Under the system, essential consumer goods are provided to people at fair prices through government agencies.
Fair Price Shops or Ration Shops
Public distribution system ensures supply of essential commodities through a network of fair price shops. At present, there are about 4.50 lakh fair price shops in India, out of which about 3.60 lakh shops are operating in rural areas and 0.90 lakh shops are operating in urban areas. Each shop is envisaged to serve a population of about 2000.
Consumers Co-operative Stores
Consumer co-operatives play an important role in the supply of quality goods at reasonable rates to common people. There is a three-tier structure of consumer co-operative societies in India. They are primary consumer co-operative societies, central consumer co-operative stores and state level consumer federations. More than 50,000 village level societies are engaged in the distribution of consumer goods in rural areas.
Shops selling Cloth at Controlled Prices
These shops sell cloth at controlled prices to consumers on the basis of their ration cards. More than 66,000 shops are selling such cloth throughout the country.
Super bazaars are the bazaars which provide all the goods of daily needs at controlled prices. These markets enable the consumers to complete their purchases from one place. These bazaars are working in almost all the major cities of India.
In some states, kerosene is distributed through fair price shops while in other states, specific retailers have been licensed for the purpose.
Commodities of Distribution
Six key essential commodities viz., wheat, rice, sugar, imported edible oils, kerosene and soft coke are distributed to consumers through public distribution system. Besides, state governments are empowered to include other essential goods in the system.
Different institutions have been assigned the responsibility of procurement, allocation and distribution of different goods as under:
Food Corporation of India for wheat, rice and other food grains,
Indian Oil Corporation and Ministry of Petroleum for Kerosene,
Coal India Limited for soft coke,
National Textiles Corporation, and
State Trading Corporation for imported edible oils.