National Food Security Law to be implemented by April
NEW DELHI: The National Food Security Law will be implemented in all states and Union Territories, barring Tamil Nadu, by April this year, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said today.
Till now, 25 states and UTs have rolled out the law while 11 are in the process of doing so, he said.
The law was passed by Parliament in 2013 and state governments were given one year to implement it. Since then, the deadline has been extended thrice till September 2015.
The food law provides legal entitlement to 5 kg of subsidised foodgrains per person every month at Rs 1-3 kg to two-thirds of India's population.
"When we came to power, the food law was implemented in only 11 states. Now, it has been rolled out in 25 states. All states and UTs, barring Tamil Nadu, will implement by April this year," Paswan told reporters here.
Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Megalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman Nicobar, Mizoram, Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Tamil Nadu are 11 states which are yet to implement the food law.
The minister said that direct cash transfer of food subsidy is being implemented on a pilot basis in Puducherry and Chandigarh. "Dadra and Nagar Haveli, is also in full readiness for implementation of this pilot cash transfer/DBT scheme," he added.
Outlining steps taken in last 19 months to strengthen Public Distribution System (PDS), Paswan said digitisation of ration cards is one of the important components for making PDS leak proof and the government has digitised 97% of total 24.99 crore ration cards across the country and soon 100% will be digitised.
Over 10.10 crore ration cards have been seeded with Aadhaar, online allocation of foodgrains implemented in 19 states/UTs, 61,904 fair price shops (FPS) have been automated by installing 'Point of Sale' devices, he said.
"By March this year, about 2 lakh FPS will have this device," he said.
The minister further said that the transparency portal to display all operations of PDS has been launched in 27 states and UTs. Online system for redressal of PDS grievances has been put in place in all states.
That apart, rules for payment of food security allowance to the beneficiary in the case of non-delivery of foodgrains have been notified, he added.
In order to provide nutritional security to economically vulnerable sections and to have better targeting of 'other welfare schemes' for poor, Pawan said, a committee of ministers under his chairmanship has not only decided continuation of foodgrain allocation for Other Welfare Schemes but also recommended for providing milk and eggs.
Total food subsidy to implement the food law is estimated to be Rs 1.3 lakh crore.
The government said meanwhile that it is considering supplying fortified rice and wheat atta via other welfare schemes and is awaiting set quality norms from the food safety regulator FSSAI.
"We are looking at food fortification. FSSAI in February 2015 had taken out standards on wheat atta. It is yet set standards for rice atta. We are waiting," Food Secretary Vrinda Sarup said.
On future plans, the Food Minister said the government will set up a centre of excellence on food in partnership with the UN agency World Food Programme and also upgrade Kanpur- based National Sugar Institute as international institute.
He also hoped passage of the Consumer Protection Bill and Bureau of Indian Standards Bill in Parliament this year. These two bills have already been passed in the Lok Sabha.