Right to Food

Right to Food

 

As per the CAG report on the status of NFSA's implementation (tabled in Parliament on 29 April, 2016), officially entitled 'CAG Audit Report no. 54 of 2015 on the Preparedness for implementation of NFSA (2013)' (please click here to access):

Identification of beneficiaries and issuance of ration cards

• Although the NFSA (2013) that came into effect from July 5, 2013 aimed to provide foodgrains to 81.34 crore beneficiaries at highly subsidized rates, only 11 states/ Union Territories (UTs) reported identification of eligible households within the stipulated timeline of 365 days whereas seven states/ UTs reported identification of eligible households under NFSA during June-October 2015, thereby taking the figure of implementing states/ UTs to 18. 

• Out of the above 18 states, eight states/ UTs fully completed the identification as per coverage under NFSA. However, it was noted that in case of 10 states/ UTs NFSA was implemented even though these states did not complete identification of required number of beneficiaries under NFSA. In these 10 states/ UTs, as against the total 262.13 million beneficiaries, only 207.79 million were identified. This resulted in benefit of subsidized foodgrains under NFSA not reaching 54.34 million remaining unidentified of the targeted beneficiaries.

• Identification of beneficiaries was one key milestone to be achieved within a year, but most of the early implementers (Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra) recycled the old system and re-branded it as NFSA compliant. There were repeated extensions of timelines by the Central Government for identification of beneficiaries for which there was no provision in NFSA.

• The CAG audit has noted that under Section 10(1) (b) of NFSA, the state government shall continue to receive the allocation of foodgrains from the Central Government under the existing Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), till the identification of such households is complete. Hence, the NFSA clearly stipulates that identification is necessary for receiving foodgrains under NFSA.

• In Himachal Pradesh, 6.9 lakh old ration cards were stamped as priority household and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households and re-issued as NFSA compliant. In Karnataka, 8.90 lakh bogus and ineligible ration cards were found (June 2015) in the existing system during seeding of Elector’s Photo Identity Card details. However, instead of cancelling these bogus or ineligible ration cards, state government continued to issue foodgrains to them. In Maharashtra, the ration cards were revalidated by merely affixing stamps on the existing ration cards under different categories.

• Upto 75 percent of the rural and 50 percent of urban population as per Census 2011 at the national level were to be covered under NFSA and the states/ UTs were supposed to be allocated foodgrains as specified for the above coverage. However, only 51 percent of the eligible beneficiaries had been identified and 49 percent beneficiaries were yet to be identified in all the states/ UTs.

• The reasons for delay in implementation of NFSA by non-implementing states/ UTs were non-finalization of figures under Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), lack of infrastructural facilities, insufficient funds and manpower. The work of survey of rural and urban areas under SECC 2011 was not completed till July 2013.

• The CAG audit noted that prior to enactment of the NFSA in 2011 many states had raised the issue of identification of beneficiaries as one of the major constraints. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had clarified that data collected under SECC will have information of a number of socio-economic indicators. The same Ministry also indicated that the Ministry of Rural Development and the Planning Commission in consultation with states, experts and civil societies will arrive at a consensus on the methodology, consistent with provisions of the Food Security Bill, to ensure that no poor household is excluded from the coverage under Government programmes. However, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution finally decided to allow the states/ UTs to formulate their own guidelines/ criteria for identification of priority households. This contributed to delay in implementation as many states were still waiting for the completion of SECC.

• Most of the implementing states did not identify the AAY and priority household’s beneficiaries as per the provisions of the NFSA but used the old database of beneficiaries for extending the benefits.

• The maternity benefit, though made mandatory through NFSA, were yet to be extended to pregnant woman and lactating mothers in the country and was available to a few chosen districts.

• As per Section 5 (1) of NFSA, in case of children in the age group of six months to six years, appropriate meal, free of charge, was to be provided through the local Anganwadi Centre (AWC) so as to meet the nutritional standards specified in NFSA. The Ministry of Women and Child Development, in consultation with the state governments, made the Supplementary Nutrition (under the Integrated Child Development Services scheme) Rules 2015. However, no provision was made in the Rules for the payment of food security allowance to the beneficiaries of the AWCs, which were required under Section 8 of the NFSA.

Reforms in Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS)

• Doorstep delivery of foodgrains was not implemented in Assam, whereas in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra it was implemented partially. In Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, doorstep delivery was being done by Fair Price Shop (FPS) dealers themselves against the provision of NFSA.

• Computerization of TPDS operations was not completed in the selected states/ UTs and was at different stages of implementation.

• Unavailability of required computer application and hardware were the limiting factors in the selected states/ UTs. Inadequate digitization of the identified beneficiaries’ data was observed in the states/ UTs.

• The National Foodgrains Movement Plan was not prepared despite being decided in 2012.

• In the test checked states the storage capacity of foodgrains was not adequate for holding 3 months requirement and the condition of existing storage capacity with the states/ UTs needed upgradation.

Grievance Redressal Mechanism and Monitoring

• Though, six out of nine selected states/ UTs were found to have put in place the grievance redressal mechanism, these were not fully functional. Vigilance committees at all the four levels were not in existence in any of the selected states/ UTs. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution did not have the information on grievance redressal mechanism and vigilance committee, and was not in position to monitor the implementation. Similarly, monitoring done by the states was inadequate and there were shortfalls in inspections.


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