While the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is still dallying over the Food Security Bill, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Chhattisgarh government took the initiative today to have the state Assembly pass the first Food Security Act in the country.
According the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act 2012, all Antyodaya (poorest of poor) households and priority households will get 35 kg of foodgrain at Rs 1 per kilo, two kg of black gram at Rs 5 per kg, two kg of pulses at Rs 10 per kg, and two kg of iodised salt, every month.
The Act provides for schemes to offer free meals to the destitute and homeless, through local anganwadis. The Act also has provisions to provide cooked meals to pregnant women and lactating mothers and take-home meals for children up to six years.
|SNAPSHOT OF THE ACT|
The Act also provides for 15 kg of foodgrain at subsided rates to every household in the general category (people above poverty line).
The Centre’s Food Bill is being modified with recommendations from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food to provide for five kg of food grains per individual, rather than giving a fixed quantity per household. While the Centre’s efforts to define poverty has been marred by controversy, the Chhattisgarh law clearly defines the “priority category”.
It has also created another category of particularly vulnerable social groups including tribal groups, households headed by a woman, widow, terminally ill person, disabled person or aged person.
The priority category includes households of landless labourers, small and marginal farmers, unorganised workers, construction workers, etc. People paying income tax, owning four hectares of irrigated land, owning eight hectares of unirrigated land, or owning a 1,000 sq feet pucca house are not eligible.
The law also focuses on removal of hunger and malnutrition, and provides for creating schemes specifically addressing these conditions and providing cooked free meals in such cases.
The Act also provides for equipping every school and anganwadi in the state with cooking facilities, drinking water and sanitation. Its objective is to ensure adequate food for all eligible households of the state, so that they can live with dignity and in pursuance of their right to be free from hunger and other deprivations associated with lack of food.