iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 20, 2013
The food security law would mean extensive coverage of grains to the population in once considered Bimaru states – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Rajasthan and Orissa. In the nutshell, it would mean that many of the non-Congress ruled states would gain as their food allocations would increase substantially whereas that of some of the Congress ruled states may see marginal hike.

The state-wise food grain allocation would change as 67 % of the population will be covered under the law as this proportion of population will get rice for Rs. 3, wheat for Rs. 2 and coarse grains for Rs. 1. Under the present system only 34% of the population was entitled to get food grains at this cost.

The Food Security Ordinance recently promulgated would resuled in around 75-85 % of population of the poor states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand getting covered. The existing average population coverage is these states is around 47%.

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

The present public distribution policy was on 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 such as Tamil Nadu and Himachal have developed at a much faster rate than Bimaru states since 1993-94, there allocation of the food grain will fall. In case of Tamil Nadu, it is expected to be reduced by around 12, highest dip for any state. For others like 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 (for more read graphic). The coverage would almost double in Manipur and Jharkhand.

The government estimates the impact of increase in coverage would be additional 90 lakh tonnes over and above the existing annual allocation of 430 lakh tonnes. The new coverage and food grain requirement will be notified soon, the government officials said.