- Bill Provides Rice at the Rate of Rs 3 and Wheat at Rs 2 Per Kg
- Food Security Allowance in Case of Non Supply of Foodgrains Proposed
- Special Focus on Nutritional Support to Women and Children
- Women to Get 6000 Rs Maternity Allowance Besides Nutritional Food
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Shri K.V.Thomas introduced amendments in the National Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha today and placed the amended Bill for consideration and passing by the House.
The National Food Security Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 22nd December, 2011 to addresses the issue of food security in a comprehensive manner, by adopting a life cycle approach. The Bill was introduced after a wide-ranging consultation with various stakeholders.
After introduction, the Bill was referred to Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, who interacted with other Central Ministries, various other organizations and individuals and visited States before submitting its report to the Speaker, Lok Sabha on 17th January, 2013. The recommendations of the Standing Committee were examined in consultation with concerned Central Ministries and also with the Food Ministers and Food Secretaries of States/UT.
Based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee and views of various stakeholders thereon, the Government decided to move certain amendments to the Bill. These amendments seek to make the framework of the proposed legislation simpler, provide more flexibility to States/UTs in its implementation and to address some of the concerns raised by them.
Main amendments to the Bill are as under:
- Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): Instead of coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population under two categories of priority and general households with different entitlements and issue prices provided in the original Bill, there would be only one category of beneficiaries with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month.
- Protection of entitlements under Targeted Public Distribution System: The entitlement of Antyodaya AnnaYojana (AAY) households, which constitute poorest of the poor will, however, be protected at 35 kg per household per month. It is also proposed to accept the recommendation of the Committee to protect the existing allocation of foodgrains to the States/UTs, subject to it being restricted to average annual offtake during last three years (2009-10 to 2011-12).
- State-wise coverage and identification of beneficiaries: Corresponding to coverage of 75%/50% of the rural/urban population at the all India level, State-wise coverage will be determined by the Planning Commission. The work of identification of eligible households is proposed to be left to the States/UTs, which may frame their own criteria or use the Social Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data.
- Subsidized Prices under TDPS and their revision: Uniform prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains will be applicable to all eligible beneficiaries. It is proposed to fix these prices for the first three years of implementation of the Act, and thereafter link the same suitably to MSP.
- Cost of intra-State transportation & handling of foodgrains and FPS Dealers™ margin: In order to address the concerns of States/UTs regarding additional financial burden, it is proposed that Central Government may provide assistance to States towards cost of intra-State transportation, handling of foodgrains and FPS Dealers™ margin, for which norms will be devised.
- Maternity benefit: It is proposed to allow States/UTs to use the existing machinery of District Grievance RedressalOfficer (DGRO), State Food Commission, if they so desire, to save expenditure on establishment of new set up.
At the coverage and entitlement now proposed, total estimated annual foodgrains requirement is 612.3 lakh tons and the corresponding estimated food subsidy for implementation of NFSB, at 2013-14 costs, is about Rs. 1,24747 crore. When compared to the estimated food subsidy requirement under existing TDPS and Other Welfare Schemes, the additional food subsidy implication is about Rs.23,800 crore per annum. Requirement for assistance to States for meeting the expenditure on Transportation, Handling and FPS Dealers™ margin, etc., would be additional.
HIGHLIGHTS OF AMENDED BILL
The National Food Security Bill is a historic initiative for ensuring food and nutritional security to the people. It gives right to the people to receive adequate quantity of foodgrains at affordable prices. The Food Security Bill has special focus on the needs of poorest of the poor, women and children. In case of non-supply of foodgrains now people will get Food Security Allowance. The bill provides for wide scale redressal mechanism and penalty for non compliance by public servant or authority. Other features of the Bill are as follows;
Coverage of two thirds population to get highly subsidised foodgrains
Upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population will have uniform entitlement of 5 kgfoodgrains per month at highly subsidized prices of Rs. 3, Rs. 2, Rs. 1 per kg. for rice, wheat, coarse grains respectively . It will entitle about two thirds of our 1.2 billion population to subsidised foodgrains under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS.
Poorest of the poor continue to get 35 kg per household
The poorest of poor households would continue to receive 35 Kg foodgrains per household per month underAntyodaya Anna Yajna at subsidized prices of Rs 3, Rs 2 and Rs 1. It is also proposed to protect the existing allocation of foodgrains to the States/Uts, subject to it being restricted to average annual offtake during last three years.
Eligible households to be identified by the States
Corresponding to the coverage of 75% rural and 50 % of urban population at all India level, State wise coverage will be determined by the Planning Commission. The work of identification of eligible households is left to the States/UTs, which may frame their own criteria or use Social Economic and Caste Census data.
Special focus on nutritional support to women and children
There is a special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms will also receive maternity benefit at least of Rs. 6000/-. Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food as per prescribed nutritional norms.
Food Security Allowance in case of non supply of foodgrains
The Central Government will provide funds to States/UTs in case of short supply of food grains from Central pool, In case of non-supply of food grains or meals to entitled persons, the concerned State/UT Governments will be required to provide such food security allowance as may be prescribed by the Central Government to the beneficiaries.
States to get assistance for intra-State transportation and handling of foodgrains
In order to address the concern of the States regarding additional financial burden, Central Government will provide assistance to the States towards cost of intra-State transportation, handling of foodgrains and FPS dealers™ margin. This will ensure timely transportation and efficient handling of foodgrains.
Reforms for doorstep delivery of foodgrains
Reforms have been intiated for doorstep delivery of foodgrains, application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end to end computerisation, leveraging ˜Aadhaar™ for unique identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under TPDS etc for effective implementation of the Food Security Act.
Women Empowerment– Eldest women will be Head of the household
Eldest woman of eighteen years of age or above will be head of the household for issue of ration card, and if not available, the eldest male member is to be the head of the household.
Grievance redressal mechanism at district level
There will be state and district level redressal mechanism with designated nodal officers. The States will be allowed to use the existing machinery for District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO), State Food Commission, if they so desire, to save expenditure on establishment of new redressal set up. Redressal mechanism may also include call centers, helpline etc.
Social audits and vigilance committees to ensure transparency and accountability
Provisions have also been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
Penalty for non compliance
The Bill provides for penalty to be imposed on public servants or authority, if found guilty of failing to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO).
At the proposed coverage of entitlement, total estimated annual foodgrains requirement is 612.3 lakh tons and corresponding estimated food subsidy for the Bill at 2013-14 costs is about Rs.1,24,724 crore.