Centre extends food security Act deadline

The period for identification of households eligible for coverage under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) has been extended up to September 30, 2015 through an order issued by the Department of Food and Public Distribution.

  • The deadline has been extended, for the second time, because States have not yet identified beneficiaries, and also due to lack of preparedness in 25 States/Union Territories for implementing the Act.
  • Though the law stipulates that any such orders made under the Act are tabled in Parliament, the Centre has no such plans.

What the Act says

  • As per Section 42 of the NFSA Act, “if any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central government may, by order, published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, as appear to it to be necessary or expedient for removing the difficulty.”
  • But this is upon the condition that “every order made under this Section shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament.”

About National Food Security Act, 2013:

  • Also called as the Right to Food act, this act aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people.
  • It extends to the whole of India.
  • Under the provisions of this act, beneficiaries are able to purchase 5 kilograms per eligible person per month of
    • cereals at the following prices:
    • Rice at 3 Rupees per kg
    • Wheat at 2 Rupees per kg
    • Coarse grains (millet) at 1 rupee per kg.

Salient features:

  • 75% rural and 50% of the urban population are entitled for three years from enactment to five kg food grains per month at 3 Rupees , 2 Rupees, 1 Rupee per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains (millet), respectively.
  • The states are responsible for determining eligibility.
  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to a nutritious “take home ration” of 600 Calories and a maternity benefit of at least Rs 6,000 for six months.
  • Children 6 to 14 years of age are to receive free hot meals or “take home rations”.
  • The central government will provide funds to states in case of short supplies of food grains.
  • The state government will provide a food security allowance to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of food grains.
  • The Public Distribution System is to be reformed.
  • The eldest woman in the household, 18 years or above, is the head of the household for the issuance of the ration card.
  • There will be state- and district-level redress mechanisms and State Food Commissions will be formed for implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Act.
  • The poorest who are covered under the Antodaya yojana will remain entitled to the 35 kg of grains allotted to them under the mentioned scheme.
  • The cost of the implementation is estimated to be $22 billion(1.25 lac crore), approximately 1.5% of GDP.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, NFSA, PIB.

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