Senior BJP leader and former food minister Shanta Kumar, who headed a high-level committee on restructuring Food Corporation of India, on Thursday termed the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 as ‘vote security’ legislation that would lead to massive diversion of grains from the public distribution system (PDS).
“Prior to the passage of the food security act, we had expressed reservation on providing highly subsidised foodgrains to 67% of the country’s population. As we were to fight an election, we supported the then UPA government in passage of the legislation,” Kumar told reporters.
He said food security legislation at the current form would lead to dilution of targeted public distribution system (TPDS) thus would not make any impact on the poverty.
The committee in its report submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recommended a second look at NFSA, its commitments and implementation. The report has stated that coverage of food security legislation to 67% of population is much on the ‘higher side’ and should be brought down to around 40%, which will comfortably cover BPL families and some even above that.’
Kumar also said that the states are not lifting grains allocated under APL families as there is hardly any demand from these families.
“Five kg grain per person to priority households under NFSA is actually making BPL households worse off, who used to get 7kg/person under the TPDS,” the panel has noted.
“Given that leakages in PDS range from 40 to 50%, and in some states go as high as 60 to 70%, government should defer implementation of NFSA in states that have not done end to end computerisation; have not put the list of beneficiaries online for anyone to verify, and have not set up vigilance committees to check pilferage from PDS”.