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National Food Security Ordinance: Salient points

The ordinance provides for grievance redressal mechanism and penalty for non-compliance by public servants

Foodgrain image via Shutterstock
Foodgrain image via Shutterstock
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The National Food Security Ordinance, promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee, aims to give right to subsidised food grain to 67 percent of India's 1.2 billion people, and will ensure food and nutritional security, said an official statement Friday.

The ordinance, with a special focus on the needs of the poorest of the poor, women and children, provides for grievance redressal mechanism and penalty for non-compliance by public servants or any authority, the statement said.

The salient points of the are:

Up to 75 percent of the rural population and up to 50 percent of the urban population will have uniform entitlement of five kg food grain per month, at highly subsidised prices of Rs.3, Rs.2, Re.1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains, respectively.

The poorest of poor households would continue to receive 35 kg food grain per household per month under the Antyodaya Anna Yojna at subsidised prices of Rs.3, Rs.2 and Re.1.

State-wise coverage will be determined by the central government.

The work of identification of eligible households has been left to the states/Union Territories, which may frame their own criteria or use Social Economic and Caste Census data, if they so desire.

There is a special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms, will also receive maternity benefit of at least Rs.6,000 for six months. Children in the age group of six months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food, as per prescribed nutritional norms.

The central government will provide funds to states/UTs, in case of short supply of food grain from central pool.

In case of non-supply of food grain or meals to entitled persons, the concerned state/UT governments will be required to provide such food security allowance to the beneficiaries as may be prescribed by the central government.

The central government will provide assistance to the states towards cost of intra-state transportation, handling of food grain and fair price shop (FPS) dealers' margin, for which norms will be developed.

The ordinance also contains provisions for reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS) through doorstep delivery of food grain, application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end-to-end computerisation, leveraging 'Aadhaar' for unique identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under the Targeted PDS (TPDS) for effective implementation of the ordinance.

The eldest woman in the household, of 18 years of age or above, will be the head of the household for the issue of the ration card. If the eldest woman is not available, the eldest male member is to be the head of the household.

There will be state and district level redressal mechanism with designated officers. The states will be allowed to use the existing machinery for District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO), State Food Commission, if they so desire, to save expenditure on establishment of new redressal set-up. Redressal mechanism may also include call centres, helpline etc.

Provisions have also been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees in order to ensure transparency and accountability.

The Bill provides for penalty to be imposed on public servants or authority, if found guilty of failing to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO).

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