The Essential Commodities Act 1955 was enacted by Government of India, as an act to facilitate, control and regulate usage of essential commodities. In exercise of the powers conferred under Section 3 (2) (1) of the Essential Commodities Act the Government of Kerala made the Kerala Rationing order 1966. The Government of Kerala formulated the Department of Civil Supplies in 1965 to enforce this Act. The Public Distribution System (PDS) came into existence in the state with effect from 1 July 1965.The Civil Supplies Department discharges the responsibilities of managing the Public Distribution, enforcement of Market discipline and promotion of consumer awareness and protection of their interest.
The Department of Civil Supplies functions under the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs of the Government of Kerala. The Commissioner of Civil Supplies is the Principal Head of the Department. He exercises the statutory functions entrusted with him under the Kerala Rationing Order 1966, PDS (Control) Order, 2001 and other control orders issued by the Government of Kerala under the Essential Commodities Act.By the introduction of Targetted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the ration cardholders are divided into BPL (Below Poverty Line) and APL (Above Poverty Line). The scheme was brought into effect in Kerala with effect from 1 June, 1997. Later, in the year 2000, the Anthyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) was launched by the Govt. of India to reach the basic ration items to the poorest of the poor.

The main stakeholders of PDS are:

  1. Ration cardholders
  2. Government of India
  3. Government of Kerala
  4. Civil Supplies Department
  5. Food Corporation of India
  6. The Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd.
  7. Authorized Wholesale Distributors
  8. Kerosene Wholesale Depots
  9. Authorized Retail Dealers
The rationed articles distributed through Ration Depots are Rice, Wheat, Kerosene and Levy Sugar. The entire allotment is allocated by the Government of India. The Ministry of Food and Public Distribution allocates Rice, Wheat and Levy Sugar. The Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gases allocates Kerosene.
Government of Kerala through Department of Civil Supplies exercises the statutory functioning of TPDS. The Director of Civil Supplies sub allocates the rationed articles based on the number of card holders to Districts. District Supply Officer, in turn, sub-allocates the quantity to the Taluk Supply Officer. Taluk Supply Officer divides the quantity among Wholesale depots, and the Retail Dealers lift stock from Wholesale depots.
Food Corporation of India plays a key role in TPDS. They provide Rice and Wheat to the State sanctioned by the Central Govt. FCI has a Regional Office in Kerala, 9 Area Offices and 23 Depots in Kerala. AWDs lift rice and wheat from FCI depots.The Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd. (Supplyco) provides Custom Milled Rice(CMR),  Levy Sugar and Fortified Atta. Kerala is a DCP (Decentralized Procurement) State.
The paddy procured from the farmers of the State is processed and the CMR, is distributed through ration depots. For a particular month’s allotment, FCI provides the balance quantity of rice after considering the quantity of CMR available with Supplyco. Supplyco also provides Levy sugar and fortified atta to the ration dealers. Supplyco has 56 depots through which levy sugar and fortified atta are distributed. CMR is distributed through Mills which are under contract with Supplyco.
AWDs (Authorized Wholesale Distributors) are the intermediary between FCI/Supplyco and ARDs. They lift rice and wheat from FCI/Supplyco and distribute them to ARDs. There are 330 AWDs in the State, out of which 9 are run by Supplyco and the rest by private or cooperatives. Kerosene Wholesale Dealers (KWDs) are similar to AWDs, but they provide kerosene. They lift kerosene from Oil Companies (IOC/BPC/HPC). There are 286 KWDs in the State