In a move likely to benefit 7.17 crore people from the state, the Food Security Bill will be implemented in Maharashtra from December 2013.
The announcement was made by food and civil supplies minister Anil Deshmukh in the legislative Council on Tuesday evening.
Apart from providing 5kg of wheat and rice to each beneficiary at a uniform price of Rs3 for a kg and Rs2 for a kg respectively, the state will also replace the coloured ration cards with barcoded smart cards.
The woman in the family will be put as the family head both on the smart card and in the family’s records under the scheme.
The Centre will spend around Rs900 crore annually on this project in the state.
“This is a historic decision taken by the UPA government. We plan to take the lead in its implementation. The ordinance was published on July 5, after which divisional commissioners and officials held a meeting on its implementation. The plan will take off in December,” Deshmukh told the Council.
He was replying to a debate raised by Congress legislator Manikrao Thakre. “The right to food that is emphasized in the bill should get implemented in totality by reaching out to the poorest citizen. The state should ensure that defaulters are punished and taken to court,” Thakre said.
Deshmukh said that the state was yet to get guidelines on the implementation of the scheme, but they have spent Rs2,000 crore on creating godowns for storing 13.5 lakh metric tonnes of food grain.
He added that the state will slap a penalty of Rs5,000 on officials who do not carry out their duties pertaining to the implementation of the Food Security Act.