With the exception of Tamil Nadu, all states and Union Territories would roll out the National Food Security Act (NFSA) by March 2016, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Monday.
The states and union territories were supposed to roll out the mega food security programme by September, 2014, one year after the passage of the Act in Parliament. However most of the states have been slow in implementing various provisions of food security legislation such as putting beneficiaries list online, end-to-end consumption of foodgrain transportation and storage and creation of grievance redressal system.
Only 22 states and UTs (including Punjab, Haryana, MP, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha) have rolled out the law while 14 are in the process of doing so, Paswan said at the meeting of the states food department officials. “Except for Tamil Nadu, all other states have said they will implement the Food Law by the end of March 2016,” he said.
Out of the rest of 14 states, food department officials from Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim stated that the states would start rolling out food law by the end of December. A food ministry official told FE that UP, Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir, and Andaman & Nicobar will roll it out in January 2016 while other — Gujarat, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland — will implement the food security legislation by the end of March, 2016.
In the meeting, a Tamil Nadu government official said it is likely to roll out the law in July 2016 since it’s implementing the universal public distribution system. The official said the state is also finding it difficult to identify beneficiaries under the food security law and is yet to put in place end-to-end computerisation in this regard.
The NFSA, launched by the UPA government in 2013 and which the Modi government has decided to retain, is meant to ensure supply of highly subsidised food grains to around 84 crore people in the country. The scheme was to be rolled out from July 2014, a year after the law was made, but has missed several deadlines. For below poverty line families, the non-NFSA states get rice and wheat at Rs 5.6/kg and Rs 4.1/kg, respectively, from the Centre; the MSPs (paid to farmers) for these grains in the last season was Rs 18.75/kg and Rs 14.1/kg, rates which the states would find prohibitively high. Under the food law, the Centre is obligated to give the rice, wheat and coarse cereals at Rs 3/kg, Rs 2/kg and Rs 1/kg, respectively, to states and the states are required to distribute these at the same rates, to identified households.