CHENNAI: In what is being projected as a Deepavali gift, the Jayalalithaa government has decided to implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from November 1, while continuing the Universal Public Distribution System that has been in force for the past decades.
The State had several concerns over the proposals right from the time the bill was introduced by the previous regime at the Centre three years ago. Primary among these was the impact it would have on the universal PDS system.
However, as the government order issued in this regard on Thursday explained, if the NFSA is not implemented, the State will have to incur an additional annual expenditure of `2,730.95 crore due to revision of rate for rice by the Centre from November 1. That, over and above the present expenditure of `2,393.30 crore.
Faced with a situation where it had to choose between two difficult options, the State decided to implement the Act, but without passing on the burden to the millions who are dependent on the Universal Public Distribution System. So the UPDS will continue, which means the offtake could go up.
The State government has also decided to constitute a State Food Commission for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of NFSA. As stipulated in the Act, the list of priority households will be uploaded in the website. The supply of foodgrains will be uniform both for priority and non-priority households under the Universal PDS.
By choosing this option of implementing the Act with modifications, the State has to bear an additional expenditure of `1,193.30 crore per year.“Rice will continue to be supplied free of cost to all ration cardholders. In case of Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), the existing scale of supply of 35 kg of rice per card per month will continue to be supplied free of cost,” the GO added.
The present monthly offtake of rice under the PDS, including AAY, is about 2.23 lakh MT, while the monthly allotment by the Centre is 2.96 lakh MT. The additional requirement of rice, over and above AAY, BPL and APL allocation, was being met through additional allocation of 27,969 MT of rice per month at BPL rate (`5.65 per kg) by the Centre. That additional allocation happened only up to June last. The window was shut in July.
The State has been getting 15.15 lakh MT annually under APL category, but was informed that no further additional allocation of foodgrain would be made to Tamil Nadu under APL and BPL category since it was yet to implement NFSA.
The order pointed out that the Centre had increased the minimum support price (MSP) rate for rice for APL families from `8.30 per kg to `22.54 per kg, which substantially raised the money required.
The revised scale of supply will be implemented in the State from November 1 except in Aravakurichi, Thanjavur and Thirupparankundram Assembly constituencies due to model code of conduct in force for elections scheduled for November 19.