In days after constitution of consultative groups by Chief Minister Punjab to accelerate the pace of implementation of his government’s flagship programmes, the Food Security – Smart Ration Cards Group constituted under the Chairmanship of Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Punjab held its maiden meeting at Anaj Bhawan, Chandigarh.Reviewing the Food Security Schemes at length, the group recommended certain modifications in the implementation of existing schemes in order to streamline the food grains distribution system and to bring more transparency and efficacy into the process.The Group comprising of Rural Development & Panchayats Minister, Mr.Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Social Security Minister, Smt. Aruna Chaudhary, seven MLAs, senior government officers of department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Social Security and Finance as members with Special Principal Secretary to CM , Mr. Gurkirat Kirpal Singh and Captain Sandeep Sandhu Secretary (Political) to CM as special invitees, suggested ease in verification procedure for Smart Ration Card beneficiaries. It was observed that inordinate delay occurs in verification of identified beneficiaries due to the concerned Performa being passed from office of Patwari to Deputy Commissioner. Hence, it has been suggested that in Rural Areas Patwaris, Block Development Officers and District Food Supply Controller or his nominee, in Urban Areas Inspectors of Municipal Committees, Executive Officers and Secretary/ Superintendent Level officers and in areas falling under Cantonment Boards the nominee of the respective Deputy Commissioner may verify the forms of the beneficiaries. The group opined that this simplification in the identification/verification of the beneficiaries will go a long way increasing the reach of food security schemes.Besides, it has been proposed that to maintain transparency in the procedure, regular random checks into the data may be made to the tune of 10% by Sub divisional Magistrates and 5% by the Deputy Commissioners.The Food Security Group also proposed to rope in more Depot Holders so that the beneficiaries may not travel far to get the subsidized food grains. Village-wise re-verification of data of existing beneficiaries was also suggested.Aiming greater outreach to the needy, the group agreed to bring youth hostels, old age homes and orphanages under the preview of subsidised ration.Commencement of pulses distribution for the Smart Card Holders from the next food grain distribution cycle also garnered cent percent support of the members of the Group.Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ashu said that Captain Amrinder Singh, Chief Minister Punjab has constituted eight consultative groups to review and modify flagship government schemes. The groups have been mandated to review and assess the performance of the programmes/schemes and give their respective recommendations for further improvements. They are also to recommend amendments/updating of the existing guidelines of the schemes/programmes to improve their coverage with effective participation of communities/citizens, besides suggesting ways and means to improve outreach of these programmes/schemes.The Food Security – Smart Ration Cards Group has done the same and would submit its report to the Chief Minister for consideration of the Council of Ministers, he added.