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05 May 2015

States dragging their feet on Food Security law

Written by Jayant Chaudhary

A parliamentary panel has taken dim view of the delay in implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 which provides for distribution of discounted food grains to 67 per cent of the population. It has asked the Union Food Ministry to set up a task force for “quickening’’ the pace of work in the “non-compliant’’ States. Only 11 States have so far operationalised the Act with 25 States “unable’’ to comply with preconditions to improve the Public Distribution System. The Central government has given several extensions since April to States for carrying out the requirement of displaying the list of beneficiaries, computerisation of the targeted PDS, setting up vigilance committees and building modern storage facilities at strategic points for quick movement of food grains. Former Planning Commission Member Abhijit Sen said he had not seen the Standing Committee’s report but the suggestion that a task force be formed is a clear signal that States must be asked to “get their act together” and that there will be “no more extensions.”

Even the States which are implementing the Act are doing so “partially” as most of them have continued with the old set of beneficiaries primarily with the aim of not losing any quota of the concessional food grains under the targeted PDS. The government has so far not articulated its policy on the delay in the identification of beneficiaries on the basis of the socio-economic caste census. Mr. Sen, who was closely associated with the formulation of the Act, emphasised the need for “political will’’ to implement it. “The action has to be at the States’ level. They must have political will to use whatever socio-economic caste census data is available to come out with transparent indicators and make a new list (of beneficiaries).”

News Source : The Hindu - New Delhi, 5 May 2015

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