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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Cong states in race to roll out food law

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi and Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 11, 2013
First Published: 23:32 IST(11/7/2013) | Last Updated: 02:25 IST(12/7/2013)

The enactment of the showpiece National Food Security Law by the UPA government on July 5 has set off a race among major Congress-ruled states to roll out the massive programme, with Uttarakhand looking to implement it this month and Delhi eyeing August 20, Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary.

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Yet, it is BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh’s 2012 food security law, which is not only compliant with the national legislation but also provides higher entitlements.

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The national food law seeks to give a legal right to monthly food handouts to 67% of the population — or about 800 million Indians — at a fraction of their market price. Rice, wheat or millets will be given at Rs. 3, Rs. 2 and Re 1 a month. Although the law comes into immediate effect, “clause 10” of the ordinance provides six months’ “lead time” to states to identify eligible recipients.

The Uttarakhand government is set to bring a cabinet proposal on Friday to implement the food law within this month. A state government source said in the aftermath of last month’s deadly flooding, which killed an estimated 1,000, that many were in dire need of food.

The national law gives states the freedom to decide on eligible households. The Uttarakhand government proposes to exclude all income-taxed households and shop and business owners from the food programme.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting of all party chief ministers on July 13 to discuss implementation.

Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit had met food minister KV Thomas on Monday to discuss a roll-out plan. According to Delhi’s food minister Haroon Yusuf, the national capital had launched a major food security programme, Annashri Yojna, in December 2012, a cash transfer scheme to pay Rs. 600 a month to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of housewives in 1,00,000 poor families. Karnataka has already unveiled a major food scheme to supply 30 kg of rice at nearly Re 1.


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