The Center has convened State / UTs Food Ministers meet on Oct 1, 2013, to discuss implementation of National Food security Act which got accent of the President of India on September, 12, 2013 after having the nod of parliament. Prior to the meet, State Food Secretaries will meet on Sept 30, 2013 to set the agenda for the Ministers conference.
The States have been provided one year for the implementation of the historic Act which will ensure heavily subsidized foodgrains to about 82 crore people as their legal right. But Haryana, Himachal, Rajsthan, Uttranchal, Mizoram and Delhi have already started its implementation.
The meeting to be inaugurated by Shri Sharad Pawar, Union Minister for Agriculture and presided over by Prof K.V Thomas, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution will discuss criteria to be adopted for inclusion and actual identification of beneficiaries by the States. Issue of fresh ration cards, women empowerment under the Act, doorstep delivery of foodgrains, setting up of Grievance Redressal Machinery at district and state levels, computersation of Targeted Public Distribution System, creation of scientific storage capacity at various level for timely delivery of foodgrains and opening of new Fair Price Shops wherever required will also be taken up during the deliberations.
Measures to ensure more effective role of local bodies in the implementation of National Food Security Act, revamping of vigilance committees at various levels to keep a watch on distribution system, norms for identification of beneficiaries for distribution of sugar and kerosene under PDS, as National Food Security Act does not have BPL category, are also on the agenda of the meet.
Under the National Food Security Act the Center will provide financial assistance to states/UTs for meeting the expenditure on intra-State transportation, handling and margins to be paid to FPS dealers. Clarifications to the issues raised by the States in this regard will also be provided during the day long discussions.
Senior officials of PMO, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Planning Commission will also attend the meet.
The National Food Security Act 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.
It seeks to address the issue of food security in a life cycle approach – separate entitlements for pregnant women and children, from 6 months of age and upto 14 years, besides entitlements to a much larger population to receive subsidised food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System. It will cover about 75% and 50% of rural and urban population under TPDS as a single category, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month. They will get rice, wheat and coarse grains at the prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg.
Entitlement of existing AAY households will be protected at 35 kg per household per month under the Act. Corresponding to the all India coverage, State-wise coverage will be determined by Central Government. But within the State, beneficiaries will be identified by the concern state.
The Act has special focus on nutrition support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers to be entitled to meals and maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000. Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years to be entitled to meals under ICDS and MDM schemes.
The Act encourages woman empowerment as it provides that the eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.
Grievance redressal mechanism at the district and state levels will ensure effective redressel of grievances.
The Central Government will provide assistance to States in meeting the expenditure incurred by them on transportation of foodgrains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers™ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose.
The Act has significant provisions for transparency and accountability. PDS related records will be placed in public domain, Social audit will be taken up and Vigilance Committees will be set up.
Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries has been made in case of non-supply of foodgrains or meals. Penalty on public servant or authority will be imposed by the State Food Commission, in case of failure to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer.
Tags: Central Government, Food security, India, Minister of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution (India), Public Distribution System, State, Targeted Public Distribution System, United States