States dragging their feet on food security law

A parliamentary panel has taken dim view of the delay in implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 which provides for distribution of discounted food grains to 67% of the population.

It has asked the Union Food Ministry to set up a task force for quickening the pace of work in the non compliant States.

  • Only 11 States have so far operationalised the Act with 25 States unable to comply with preconditions to improve the Public Distribution System.
  • Even the States which are implementing the Act are doing so partially as most of them have continued with the old set of beneficiaries primarily with the aim of not losing any quota of the concessional food grains under the targeted PDS.
  • The Central government has given several extensions since April to States for carrying out the requirement of displaying the list of beneficiaries, computerization of the targeted PDS, setting up vigilance committees and building modern storage facilities at strategic points for quick movement of food grains.

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:

    1. Rice at 3 Rupees per kg
    2. Wheat at 2 Rupees per kg
    3. 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 5 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.(1000 Rs./Month)
  • 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 PDS 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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