Twenty Indian states / UTs roll out food security act so far, many states not prepared

Twenty Indian states / UTs roll out food security act so far, many states not prepared

Our bureau
New Delhi, Nov 4:

With Odisha which has a substantial number of poor families rolling out National Food Security Act (NFSA) earlier this week in 14 districts of the state, the total number of states and union territories (UT) commencing implementation of mega social sector scheme has gone up to 20.

Sources said that four more states – Assam, Goa, Sikkim and Andha Pradesh have informed the food ministry that they are ready to roll out food security legislation which aims at providing highly subsidised foodgrains to 84 crore of country population, by December this year.

More than 3.26 crore people of Odisha out of total population of 4.2 crore would get benefits under NFSA. The state would implement food law in all the 30 districts by next month.

However the countrywide roll out of NFSA, which was to be originally done on October, 2014, would have to pushed to next fiscal as states such Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kahsmir and a couple of north-eastern states have expressed their inability to do so.

Currently states including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal have fully implemented the law while UTs including – Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadar and Nagar Haveli have also rolled out the food security act.

The NFSA was approved by Parliament in September 2013 when the UPA government was in power although the Narendra Modi government has not denounced it, it could not implement it in all states in FY15 due to administrative bottlenecks cited by states.

Since October 2014, the food ministry has been extending the date of the countrywide roll out of food security act till September 30, 2015. “We would not extend the deadline further thus asked the states to roll out the scheme as early as possible,” a food ministry official said.

A high-profile initiative of the last UPA government, NFSA had caught global attention for its sheer scale and ambition — highly subsidised grains to 67% of the country’s population. At the World Trade Organisation, the Act became a talking point as developed-world members argued that global farm commodity markets could be distorted by India’s public stock-holding for food security.

A high level committee headed by senior BJP leader and former food minister Shanta Kumar had recommended a second look at NFSA, its commitments and implementation.

The committee argued that the coverage of food security should be brought down to around 40% of the population, which will comfortably cover families below the poverty line (BPL) and some from even among above poverty line sections. Although the committee said the NFSA in the present form could undermine the targeted public distribution system, now running creditably in many states, the Prime Minister himself had ruled out accepting these proposals.

The Centre’s food subsidy burden in FY16 is budgeted to be Rs 1.24 lakh crore, up just 1.4% over the revised estimate for last year, which was higher by the previous year’s outgo by a third.

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