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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Food security: non-Congress states’ plate to be fuller

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times   July 21, 2013
First Published: 01:50 IST(21/7/2013) | Last Updated: 03:31 IST(21/7/2013)

What was perceived as a clincher by the Congress-led UPA government to garner bagfuls of votes in the 2014 elections, the food security law, might benefit the rival camp of non-Congress ruled states the most.

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The recently promulgated food security ordinance will cover almost 75-85% of the population in poor states such as UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, MP and Jharkhand.

Most of these states are not ruled by the Congress, where food allocations would increase substantially whereas that of some of the Congress ruled states may see only marginal hikes. At present the average population coverage in these states is around 47%.

The state-wise foodgrain allocation would change as the new law will cover 67% of the population. This proportion of the population would get a kilogram of rice for Rs. 3, wheat for Rs. 2 and coarse grain for Re. 1. Right now, only 34% of the population is entitled to get foodgrain at this cost.

The losers in the bargain would be states already having high coverage of subsidised foodgrain or now economically well-off, such as Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir and all north-eastern states, except Manipur.

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The present public distribution policy was based on 1993-94 consumption expenditure survey, from which the state-wise poverty figures were derived.

The new inclusion formula devised by the Planning Commission and the food ministry for the food security law is based on 2011-12 consumption expenditure survey released in June this year.

Since states like Tamil Nadu and Himachal have developed at a much faster rate than Bimaru states (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) since 1993-94, their allocation of foodgrain will fall.

In case of Tamil Nadu, it is expected to be reduced by around 12% — highest dip for any state. For Himachal and Uttarakhand, the reduction would be marginal.

The coverage in Bihar would increase from existing 58.2% in rural and 34.5% in urban to 87% and 73%, respectively.

In Uttar Pradesh, it will increase from 42.3% in rural and 35.4% in urban to 80.71% and 61.25%, respectively. The coverage would almost double in Manipur and Jharkhand.

The government estimates that impact of coverage will be additional 90 lakh tonnes over and above the existing annual allocation of 430 lakh tonnes.


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