TN asks for amendments to National Food Security Act

The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday demanded that Centre makes certain amendments in the proposed National Food Security Act ahead of its implementation, chief among them being stating the differential cost between total rice requirement and allocation.

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2013, 17:42 PM IST

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday demanded that Centre makes certain amendments in the proposed National Food Security Act ahead of its implementation, chief among them being stating the differential cost between total rice requirement and allocation.

"The Centre must categorically state (assure) that the differential cost between the total requirement of rice and allocation (for the state government) would be supplied at Rs 8.30 per kg, for a period of at least three years," Food Minister R Kamaraj said.

He was speaking at the Conference of Food Ministers of states in Delhi on issues relating to implementation of National Food Security Act 2013.

Observing that Tamil Nadu`s apprehensions over the Act had been conveyed to the UPA Government on many occasions through letters from Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said many other issues raised by her in implementation of the Act remained "unresolved".

He said the proposed 50 per cent coverage of urban population was not adequate and should be increased to 100 per cent or at least 75 per cent on par with rural areas.

"Adequate provision should be introduced in the Act to address the needs of the migrant population with adequate additional allocation of foodgrains," he said.

Section 8 of the Act, requiring states to pay food security allowance when foodgrains cannot be supplied, has been retained despite Tamil Nadu`s objections, he said.

Kamaraj said in the case of Tamil Nadu, such a situation would arise only when the Centre fails to allocate adequate foodgrain quantity. "This provision does not answer the fundamental question of the responsibility of the central government to make adequate foodgrains available," he said.

Stating that provision in Section 23 was also inadequate to meet any shortfall in foodgrain supply, he said the Chief Minister had suggested amending it, making it incumbent on the Centre to take all necessary steps, including imports, when warranted, to ensure continued supply.

The fundamental issue of shared responsibility has been "totally ignored" in the Act and its successful implementation is "contingent" on identifiying eligible families, he said.

"This onerous responsibility is fully saddled on the shoulders of the State government," he said.

Stating that identification of eligible households has been extended to 365 days from the earlier 180 from date of commencement of the Act, he said this was insufficient as the process is very challenging and complex and would be based on the union government`s socio economic caste census.

He suggested that the time limit prescribed commence only after completion of this caste census, which forms the basic data base for identification of eligible households.

He said Tamil Nadu has been successfully implementing an universal PDS and inclusion or exclusion criteria, as per unit allocation of Sec(3) and issue of fresh ration cards "were not applicable" to the state.

PTI