Data from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 may help states finding it difficult to identify beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act and put their names online, reports Sandip Das in New Delhi. However, given that SECC final numbers, which ranks households based on their socio-economic status, are currently available for only 119 of the country’s 640 districts, the Centre’s plan to roll out the NFSA across the country starting the first week of April looks impossible. In Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Odisha, among the states where the NFSA beneficiaries are estimated to be the most, the SECC data are not yet available for even a single district, making matters worse.
In the case of Bihar, another state where the NFSA’s target population is high, the SECC final list is ready in case of only two of its 38 districts.
The delay in finalising the SECC data would have an adverse effect on not only the NFSA roll-out, which has already missed several deadlines, but the direct benefit transfer programme in diverse other areas.
Sources said the food ministry has told the states informally that the SECC data are acceptable to it as a tool for beneficiary identification.
The NFSA, launched by the UPA government and retained by the NDA government, is meant to ensure supply of highly subsidised foodgrain to around 84 crore people in the country. The scheme was to be rolled out all over the country from July 2014, a year after the law was made. The NFSA is now being implemented in select districts in 11 states (including Union territories). The food ministry had told states to put the beneficiary list online and complete end-to-end computerisation of TPDS latest by May 2015.
According to food ministry sources, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Odisha, together home to more than half of the scheme’s target population, have not yet put the list of beneficiaries online although some of these states claim the NFSA is already under implementation. All of these states are still grappling with end-to-end computerisation of the entire PDS delivery system, a prerequisite for rolling out the scheme.