New Delhi, Oct 1: The Centre will review preparations for implementation of the National Food security Act with the States and UTs in a meeting here today.
The Act which got accent of President Pranab Mukherjee on Sep mber, 12 after Parliament’s nod, has been enacted in Haryana, Himachal, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Mizoram and Delhi. The historic Act will ensure heavily subsidized foodgrains to about 82 crore people as their legal right.
The meeting to be inaugurated by Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar and presided over by Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof K.V Thomas will be attended by food ministers from States and UTs besides senior officials of PMO, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Planning Commission.
Meeting will discuss criteria to be adopted for 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, computerization of Targeted Public Distribution System, creation of additional storage capacity at various level of foodgrains and opening of new Fair Price Shops 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, new 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 Centre will provide financial assistance to states/UTs for meeting the expenditure on intra-State transportation and handling and margins to be paid to FPS dealers. The issues raised by the States in this regard will also be discussed during the meeting.
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 hence provides separate entitlements for pregnant women and children, from 6 months of age and upto 14 years. It will cover about 75 percent and 50 percent of rural and urban population under TPDS, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month at the rate of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains. But entitlement of existing AAY households will be protected at 35 kg per household per month.
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 will be entitled to maternity benefit of Rs. 6,000 children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to meals of high nutritional value under ICDS and Mid Day Meal 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 the 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. (ANI)