States were largely unprepared for implementation of National Food Security Act: CAG
New Delhi, May 3:
The states were largely ‘unprepared’ for handling more foodgrains prior to the implementation of National Food Security Act, 2013 which envisages providing highly subsidised foodgrains to two third of the country’s population, the Controller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said in a recent report.
“The states were largely unprepared for handling the logistics of allocation, movement and storage of foodgrains which was necessary for efficient and successful implementation of NFSA,” CAG stated in its first audit report submitted to parliament on the mega food security legislation.
While the criticising the centre, CAG said that the food ministry did not make any preparation with regard to removal of bottlenecks in the movement of foodgrains as it could not ensure preparation and finalisation of the National Foodgrains Movement Plan.CAG also noted that the storage capacity with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) was insufficient considering the increased grains allocation for several states. “The storage capacity was not adequate even for three months requirement of foodgrains in the test checked states,” CAG has noted.
Besides, the top audit body has observed that the identification of beneficiaries who would be getting highly subsidied foodgrains under Public Distribution System (PDS) was not carried out in a systematic and scientific manner. “Some states merely re-stamped their old cards as NFSA compliant and that too without providing for women empowerement as laid down in NFSA,” the audit report has noted
Under NFSA notified in July 2013, close to 82 crore people would get 5 kg each of wheat, rice and coarse grains monthly at Rs 2, Rs 3 and Rs 1 per kg, respectively. Earlier under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), 35 kg of subsidised foodgrains was provided to each of the 14 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.
On most of the states not implementing NFSA as stipulated within one year of legislation coming into force in July, 2013, CAG criticised the food ministry for extending time frame for roll out of food security legislation for the states thrice until September, 2015. “The extention of time schedule for implementation of NFSA without the approval of the parliament, as there was no enabling provisions in NFSA was irregular. Food ministry also failed to resolve several issues raised by the states during the formulation phase and also after enactment of NFSA which contributed to toe delay in implementation,” CAG has noted.
While acknowledging the food ministry’s contention that there was sufficient capacity for stocking the central pool foodgrains, CAG however has noted that ministry’s claim of 79.24 lakht tonne of storage capacity available across the country was not correct as the shortfall in the total storage capacity of FCI for the central pool stock was 9% to 35% during 2010-14.
While giving thrust on creation of modern grain storage infrastructure, CAG has also noted that ‘the problem may get compounded in future, as the requirement of movement become increasingly heavy.’ At present, 26 states and seven union territories have rolled out NFSA. Annual requirement of foodgrain for implementation of NFSA is around 50 – 55 million tonne (MT).