About National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013
- The NFSA aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas).
- It converts existing food security programmes of the Central Government into legal entitlements.
- It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System.
- Grains like wheat, rice and coarse grain will be distributed at the subsidized price of 3 Rs. 3, Rs. 2 and Rs. 1.
- Pregnant women and lactating mothers and children are entitled to get meals under the prescribed nutrition by MDM and ICDS.
- NFSA 2013 will provide high nutrition food to the children from age group of 6 months to 14 years.
- Pregnant women and lactating mothers will be entitled to get maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000
- It is now being implemented across entire country
- 81.34 crore persons will get subsidised wheat at Rs. 2 per kg and rice at Rs. 3 per kg.
- At the current coverage, the monthly allocation of food grains to States and UTs under the Act is about 45.5 lakh tonnes.
- The subsidy implication of about Rs. 11,726 crore per month and it is overall about Rs. 1,40,700 crore per year.
- Now Union Government will focus on further reforms in the public distribution system (PDS) including end to end computerization in order to check leakages and diversion of food grains.
Why there was delay in the implementation of the act?
- Identification of eligible households by few states was not done in time.
- Many states neither have adequate grain storage facilities nor a system of door-step delivery of grains to fair price shops (FPS) – both requirements that the Centre stresses are mandatory.
- An effective grievance redress mechanism to implement the Act was also missing.
- Besides, end-to-end computerisation of TPDS operations was also pending.
- Also there is a shortage of fair price shops in India. While there are 6 lakh villages in India, there are only 5.35 lakh fair price ration shops for disbursement of food grains.
- Duplication of beneficiaries, bogus ration cards, preparedness in allocation and erroneous registrations are some other problems that the states had to face.
- Food grains under the act will be distributed through the already existing PDS (Public Distribution System). But, these PDSs have many loopholes such as leakages of food grains, corruption etc.
- The exact number of poor is not calculated correctly. Different departments are giving different numbers.
- The cost of this bill, Rs.1.24 lakh crore will be a burden for the government, and may lead to fiscal deficit.
- As most of the food grains will be procured by Govt, exports will reduced, which is a big threat to the economy.
- Small farmers may shift to other crops, as they may get the subsidized food grains. This may reduce the production of food grains.
“The implementation of the National Food Security Act is mired in apathy and confusion.” In the light of India’s worst record in ensuring nutrition to its people and various amendments made to the food security act, critically comment on the statement. (200 Words)
To ensure nutrition and to end malnourishment GOI enacted FSA by which Right to food became a legal right. The act provides
- Children from 6 months to 6yrs will get meals in Anganwadi.
- Mid-day meal scheme in all government schools
- Malnourished children will get free meals in Anganwadi.
- Anganwadi also have clean water and sanitation.
Though act provide for these provisions to ensure nutrition still India has worst record in ensuring nutrition because of problems in PDS and act like
- It is only covering school children but many of the poor children are out of school
- Anganwadi in India are in bad shape. 33% of Anganwadi are not connected to drinking water, there is no provision for improving this.
- Identification of beneficiaries is improper.
- Under the act all women entitled to maternity benefits of 6000 per month but GOI did not designed guidelines for it.
Though FSA provisions have good provisions for ensuring nutrition, leakages and improper guidelines leading to failure of PDS, Hence PDS reforms should be need of the hour where states like Chhattisgarh showing good results.