It’s official. The Uttar Pradesh government will finally roll out the National Food Security Act in three phases from December 1.
The state will thus join a dozen other states and half-a-dozen union territories that have already implemented the then UPA government’s ambitious legislation promising food to the poor families at heavily subsidised rates. The first phase will cover 24 districts, mostly in western Uttar Pradesh. The decision comes after several prods and a warning by the centre.
The state government on Tuesday sent a letter to the centre informing it about the decision on the phased execution of the NFSA. It demanded an increased monthly public distribution system (PDS) quota of the food grains accordingly. The state cabinet is expected to give its nod to the proposal next week.
“We have decided to implement the NFSA in the state’s 24 districts under six divisions in the first phase from December 1 and have informed the central government about the same,” principal secretary, food and civil supply, Sudhir Garg told the HT. “The state cabinet may give its approval to the phased rollout of the NFSA very soon,” he added.
Under the NFSA, the priority households (eligible families) will be entitled to 5 kg of wheat and rice per family member per month for Rs 2 and Rs 3 respectively. The second phase covering another 26 districts would be rolled out on February 1, 2016. In the third and last phase, the NFSA will be implemented in 25 districts from April 1, 2016 onwards.
The 24 districts to be covered in the first phase include Agra, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Mathura, Meerut, Bulandshahar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Gautambuddh Nagar, Baghpat, Moradabad, Bijnor, Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Etawah, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Auraiya and Basti. Sources said the centre had recently sought information from the state government on 10 points with regard to, among other things, identification of priority households, arrangement of additional godowns, framing of rules and setting up the food commission.
“The government has informed the centre that most of the things required for the implementation of the food law have been accomplished or were underway and will be completed before the roll-out date,” said sources. Statewide, there are expected to be 15 crore priority households with 79% of the rural and 65% of the urban population likely to be covered as beneficiaries on the basis of various inclusion and exclusion criteria fixed by the state government as provided under the new law.
Originally, the all-India roll-out of the NFSA was to begin from October 2014 but except a few Congress-ruled states, no other state met the deadline which was extended at least thrice ever since. Sources said UP, like some other states, fell in line after the central government recently warned it that the states that failed to implement the NFSA by December end would have to lift the PDS grain at the minimum support price (MSP) rate, and not at the subsidised rate.