The government has started work on the rules and bylaws of the proposed Food Security Act, even as the Bill is being debated by a standing committee of Parliament.
The food ministry has appointed Hyderabad-based Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) as consultant for the finer points. ASCI will work with ministry officials and analyse the delivery mechanism of the department of food and public distribution, including Food Corporation of India and state governments. ASCI, which offers courses to practicing managers, is to analyse storage capacities in states and the state of their utilisation, along with customer-centric issues such as quality of grain supplied through PDS, customer satisfaction, and suggest solutions for shortcomings.
Based on the suggestions provided by ASCI, the final rules, bylaws and steps needed to strengthen the grain distribution mechanism for handling requirements under the Bill would be finalised. The suggestions would be vetted by a high-powered committee within the ministry. Officials said if everything fell into place, the Bill could be enacted from the latter half of the financial year or early next year.
“There should not be any problems with availability of grain, as the stocks in the central pool is already far in excess of the required quantity,” an official said.
The ongoing wheat procurement would add to the stocks. As on April 1, the government had foodgrain stocks of 53.4 million tonnes in the central pool, 152 per cent more than the required inventory.
The Food Bill seeks to provide legal entitlement for cheap grain to 64 per cent of the population. It would provide seven kg of grain per month per person to priority category households and three-four kg each for general category households.
The former, 46 per cent of the rural population and 28 per cent of the urban one, would get rice at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg and coarse cereals at Rs 1 per kg. For the remaining beneficiaries, grain would be provided at half the prevailing minimum support price.