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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Food law’s new version to be out soon

Kumar Uttam and Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 01, 2014
First Published: 00:02 IST(1/6/2014) | Last Updated: 00:25 IST(1/6/2014)

The new government at the Centre is planning to revisit the implementation of the Food Security Act and other schemes providing subsidised food, to ‘remove overlapping’ and ensure benefits reach the actual recipients.

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Food and public distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan has also allegedly sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s direction to put in place a more effective mechanism which also help check pilferage.

“We are doling out a huge amount as subsidies on different schemes. The multiplicity of schemes has led to overlapping, confusion and is creating a situation where a chance of real beneficiaries being left out is much higher. We will review all such schemes to see if changes are necessary,” Paswan told HT.

The minister also plans to convene a meeting of food ministers from all the states after the budget session finishes.

The meeting will help iron out differences, remove bottlenecks, help create synergy between the state and Centre and also look into other aspects like procurement, storage facilities which are crucial to the implementation of schemes providing subsidised grains.

The Food Security Act, passed last September, promises monthly food handouts to 67% of the population — roughly 800 million Indians — at a fraction of their values in the market.

As per the programme, the government will provide 5 kg of wheat at Rs. 2 per person and 5 kg of rice at Rs. 3.

The previous government had announced, rather hurriedly, that all Congress-ruled states would implement the Act within two months.

The NDA government now has to ensure full compliance from the states.

The meet with the food ministers of all states, which Paswan will chair, is expected to take stock of the states implementation of the law, among other issues.

To implement the law, states will have to switch to a single universal category of beneficiaries.

Under the previous regime, called the targeted public distribution system, subsidised grains were made available to three categories of consumers at different prices.

These categories include those below and above the poverty line as well as 2.4 crore of the poorest households under the Antodaya Anna Yojana.


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