What is National Food Security Act?

As passed by the Parliament, Government has notified the National Food Security Act, 2013 on 10th September, 2013 with the objective to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity. The Act provides for coverage of upto 75% of the rural population and upto 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population. The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5 Kgs of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per Kg for rice/wheat/coarse grains. The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kgs of foodgrains per household per month.

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The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children. Besides meal to pregnant women and lactating mothers during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, such women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000. Children up to 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards. In case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance. The Act also contains provisions for setting up of grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels. Separate provisions have also been made in the Act for ensuring transparency and accountability.

Status of implementation of the Act

32 States/UTs, namely Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir, Andaman & Nicobar, Mizoram, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh are implementing the Act at present. Out of these, Chandigarh and Puducherry are implementing the Act in DBT mode i.e. they are providing direct cash transfer of food subsidy to the beneficiaries.

Assistance to States/UTs for non-building assets for State Food Commissions

The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) provides that every State Government shall, by notification, constitute a State Food Commission for the purpose of monitoring and review of implementation of the Act. It has been decided that in case a State decides to set up State Food Commission on exclusive basis, Central Government will provide one time financial assistance for non building assets for State Food Commission. Accordingly a component viz., “Assistance to States/UTs for non-building assets for State Food Commissions” has been included under the 12th Plan Umbrella Scheme on “Strengthening of PDS & Capacity Building, Quality Control, Consultancies & Research” of the Department. Under this component, the assistance is available for non-building assets such as furniture, office equipment, computers etc. These may include computers, air-conditioners, photocopiers, Fax machines, telephones, EPABX system, tables, chairs, storage units etc. Under the scheme, assistance is not provided for any construction activity or any recurring expenses.

Salient Features of Food Security Act –

Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) : Upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population will be covered under TPDS, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month. However, since Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households constitute poorest of the poor, and are presently entitled to 35 kg per household per month, entitlement of existing AAY households will be protected at 35 kg per household per month.

State-wise coverage : Corresponding to the all India coverage of 75% and 50% in the rural and urban areas, State-wise coverage will be determined by the Central Government. Planning Commission has determined the State-wise coverage by using the NSS Household Consumption Survey data for 2011-12.

Subsidised prices under TPDS and their revision : Foodgrains under TPDS will be made available at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains for a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act. Thereafter prices will be suitably linked to Minimum Support Price (MSP).

In case, any State’s allocation under the Act is lower than their current allocation, it will be protected up to the level of average offtake under normal TPDS during last three years, at prices to be determined by the Central Government. Existing prices for APL households i.e. Rs. 6.10 per kg for wheat and Rs 8.30 per kg for rice has been determined as issue prices for the additional allocation to protect the average offtake during last three years.

Identification of Households : Within the coverage under TPDS determined for each State, the work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs.

Nutritional Support to women and children : Pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes. Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children up to 6 years of age.

Maternity Benefit : Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.

Women Empowerment : Eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards.

Grievance Redressal Mechanism : Grievance redressal mechanism at the District and State levels. States will have the flexibility to use the existing machinery or set up separate mechanism.

Cost of intra-State transportation & handling of food grains and FPS Dealers’ margin : Central Government will provide assistance to States in meeting the expenditure incurred by them on transportation of food grains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers’ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose.

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

Food Security Allowance : Provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals.

Penalty : Provision for penalty on public servant or authority, to be imposed by the State Food Commission, in case of failure to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer.

Source – Department of Food and Public Distribution

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