Food security is the very first norm of any socio-welfare economy. Considering the current situation of the increasing poverty along with increasing population, food security is a major concern for any state.
Chhattisgarh government has enacted food security act in 2012. It was passed on December 21, 2012, by the State Assembly unopposed to ensure access to adequate quantity of food and other requirements of good nutrition to the people of the State, at affordable prices, at all times to live a life of dignity.’.
The Act divides households into four groups —
- General and
- Excluded households.
The priority households will have monthly public distribution system (PDS) entitlement of 35 kg rice, wheat flour, pulses, gram and iodized salt at subsidized price. The new act will make the acclaimed PDS more comprehensive. Nearly 90% of the provisions incorporated in the Act were already covered under the PDS.
Only about 10% of the state’s population — consisting of those who pay income tax, households in non-scheduled areas that own more than 4 hectares of irrigated land or 8 hectares of non-irrigated land and households in urban areas that own a pukka house with an area more than 1,000 sq.ft. and are liable to pay property tax — are exempted from PDS.
There are 11,000 PDS shops mostly run by self-help groups located across 27 districts in the state.
The Act would benefit 42 lakh families living here. It will also cover families headed by a destitute, a widow or a differently abled person. It will also take care of poor, children living in hostels/ashrams, pregnant women as well as those hit by disaster.
The decision to redefine beneficiaries of the state’s food security scheme is in the wake of the huge burden on the exchequer given that 90% of the state’s 2.5 crore population is currently entitled to subsidized food. Also, PDS grain is getting diverted to the open market on a massive scale.
At present, close to 1.6 million tons of rice and about half a million tons of wheat are distributed through PDS in the state annually.
“Since the passage of the food security legislation, many joint families have started to split their families for getting higher amounts of food grains as entitlement under the PDS,” Anil Tuteja, MD, Chhattisgarh State Civil Supplies Corporation told FE.
The Chhattisgarh government’s food subsidy budget is estimated to rise to R4,600 crores in the current fiscal from R3,500 crores in the last fiscal.
Since the passage of food security legislation in December 2012, the state’s food subsidy budget has increased manifold — it was R900 crore in 2012-13.
Under the state food security legislation, about 16.4 lakh “most vulnerable” Antyodaya households get 35 kg of grain, mostly consisting of rice and wheat, at Rs. 1 per kg besides 2 kg of iodized salt free and 2 kg black gram and pulses at Rs 5 and Rs. 10 per kg, respectively.
Besides, the 46 lakh “priority households”, mostly belonging to landless laborers, small and marginal farmers, workers in urban the informal sector and households of construction workers, are entitled 35 kg food grains at Rs 2 kg while they also get free salt, black gram and pulses at the same quantity and prices as Antoyodaya households get.
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