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Insecurities of Food Security Act

by IT Web Admin
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The people of the state welcomed the launching of the much-awaited National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, by Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh at a function in Sangaiprou, Imphal at the office of Manipur Consumer Affair Food and Public Distribution (CAF and PD). The highlight of the launching function was the presence of the Chief Minister along with Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam and Consumer Affair Food and Public Distribution Minister L. Biren who jointly flagged off the rice loaded vehicles to be distributed to Fair Price Shops (FPS)- a symbolic demonstration of the boisterous intents of the state government 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. 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 upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards. In case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains 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.
Cut to the present- barely two months into the implementation of the most anticipated scheme, reports of misappropriation and anomalies in distributions have cropped up and what could arguably term the most promising scheme for the poor and the needy in a long time is already heading towards a disappointing disaster. Allegations, refutals and explanations regarding the scheme have become a regular news feature ever since day one. While the present government tries to brush off the contentions and allegations as politically motivated gimmicks by the opposition parties, there has to be some truth to the concerns being increasingly raised from all quarters, and the authorities entrusted with its implementation should be made to look into the matter to ensure proper utilization and prevent profiteering by a handful of individuals with vested interests. The beneficiaries should also stand firm and report any anomaly to the authorities and the media so that the guilty can be brought to justice and the system hopefully be cleansed of greedy middlemen and meddling culprits.

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