in April, May, and June, had until a few days ago distributed 6,000 tonnes — less than 36 per cent of the April quota.
Maharashtra had to distribute 17,000 tonnes of free pulses each in April, May, and June, but until May-end, it had distributed 6,700 tonnes.
West Bengal is among the worst performers. The state had to distribute 14,500 tonnes of free pulses under the Garib Kalyan package in each of the three months, but until the end of May, it had not started the distribution, according to the central government records.
Sources said though the state has received 17,000 tonnes of pulses from the central government, distribution has not started in full force.
Under the Garib Kalyan package, the Centre is distributing 1 kilogram free pulses each month to almost 192 million households in April, May, and June to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
From April to June, states had to distribute around 190,000 tonnes of pulses each month, but in some states, even the April quota has not been distributed, although two months have lapsed.
Till a few days back, of the allocated 580,000 tonnes of free pulses under the Garib Kalyan package for April, May, and June, according to the Centre’s database, states have received almost 450,000 tonnes of pulses, but distributed less than half of that - at around 200,000 tonnes of pulses.
In Madhya Pradesh, sources said of the April quota of 12,000 tonnes of free pulses, till May-end, only 4,000 tonnes had been distributed. That is not even a 40 per cent of month's requirement.
Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has been repeatedly urging states to speed up distribution for the benefit of the poor.
On the other hand, a state like Uttar Pradesh (UP) has not only distributed its full April quota of 35,000 tonnes of free pulses, but is also preparing to give the May and June quota at one go.
“UP had sought chana from us. A reason why it could distribute such a huge quantity on time,” said a senior official.
Assam had a quota of 6,000 tonnes of pulses to distribute gratis to the National Food Security Act beneficiaries, but till the end of May, it had distributed over 7,000 tonnes.
Andhra Pradesh is required to distribute around 9,000 tonnes of pulses each month under the scheme and it has gone ahead and distributed two months’ quota at one go.
Union Territories like Andaman and Nicobar Islands have distributed their three-month quota in one go.
“States need to open up more distributing centres to give option to ration card holders to get their quota of free pulses.
Clubbing it with grain distribution is delaying the process. One needs extra point-of-sale machines for that,” said a senior official.
He said if 1 quintal of free pulses needs to be distributed among 100 ration cardholders and each one takes three-four minutes to complete the operation, it will take more than four hours to empty the bag. “The process has to speed up,” he said.