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HindustanTimes Wed,27 Aug 2014

Food insecurity for the nation’s poorest

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 31, 2013
First Published: 23:54 IST(31/8/2013) | Last Updated: 02:05 IST(1/9/2013)

Half of the poorest households in villages do not possess a ration card — a  must to get cheap government ration — raising a question mark over the efficacy of the proposed food security law.

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A ministry of statistics and programme implementation’s report — Social Development Goals 2012 — says that around 51% of the rural households possessing less than 0.01 hectares or 100 square meters of land, don’t have ration cards. But, 77% to 86% of all other households held a ration card of some type.

An issued ration card is must to avail cheap food grains from the public sector fair price shops.

The study based on data collected by the National Sample Survey Office said that only 22.6% of this “bottom class” has below poverty line ration cards to seek subsidised food. This was lesser than the overall proportion of the below poverty line ration card holders in India — 26.5%.

Around 26% of the poorest have above poverty line ration cards, meaning that they can get grains from the fair price shop at zero loss to the government basis.

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They may be at rock bottom level, but most of them have been left out of the government’s subsidised ration scheme for the poorest of the poor named Antodaya scheme. The study said that only 2.7% of those belonging to this class have Antodaya ration cards, compared to the average of 2.9% for all rural households.

The ministry’s analysis of benefits from select food assistance schemes indicates that many of the beneficiaries would have been left out from the government’s different food assistance schemes, which would come under the ambit of the food security law passed by Lok Sabha this week.

“Rural households having more than 0.40 hectares of land had a higher representation among the recipients of benefits from the schemes than households possessing 0.40 hectares of land or less. The class of people possessing land between 0.41 hectares to 1 hectare had the highest proportion of beneficiary households,” the study said.

The National Food Security Law covers 67% of the country’s population. The law aims to provide them rice for R3, wheat for R2 and coarse grains for R1.

The study also found that about 81% of rural households and 67% of urban households had a ration card. But, only 26.5% in villages and 10.5% in cities had below poverty line cards.


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