PALAKKAD: The Centre is not enthused with the proposal sent by the state government regarding the implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in Kerala and the chances of it becoming a reality look very dim in the near future. Kerala had submitted the proposal on the measures taken by the state on the implementation of the NFSA at the secretary-level meeting held in New Delhi on October 27.
The secretary in the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution Sudhir Kumar told ‘Express,’ “Let the state complete all its formalities as stipulated under the Act and we will allot food grains.” Regarding the request of the state for excess allotment of food grains, he said that if it is available with the Centre it will be considered or else the quantity entitled under the Act will be allotted.
“All assistance to the states from the Centre will be as per the entitlement. Kerala is yet to complete many formalities and it has been promised to be put in place within the next few months. Therefore only when it is completed, we can proceed further.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Civil Supplies Anoop Jacob said that the state was receiving an average allotment of 16.1 lakh tonnes from the Centre for three years. Under the NFSA, it will be reduced to 14.25 lakh tonnes. Therefore, of the three requests placed by the state government the first relates to the fact that the allotment of 16.1 lakh tonnes should continue as per the past practice. The additional allotments provided for festivals should not be done away with.
Secondly, the NFSA insists on door delivery for which a sum of ` 10 crore needs to be spent as recurring expenses. The delivery of food grains at the ration shops was proposed to be undertaken by Supplyco. Therefore, the Centre should provide this amount. Thirdly, the NFSA is ‘silent’ on allotments to institutions like orphanages, educational institutions and other welfare programmes for which the state government is committed.
On the need to complete end-to-end computerisation, Anoop Jacob said “We have appointed the Project Management Consultant (PMC). A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been made and five companies have been shortlisted for undertaking the exercise.”
The process of drawing up Priority and Non-Priority card holders is also in progress for which forms were used in January and in the next two months it would be completed.
Sources in FCI said that it is hoped that once the computerisation is completed, the movement of lorries could be tracked under GPS and large-scale diversion to private mills by ration dealers can be avoided. Anoop Jacob said as per the NFSA, food grains should be lifted the preceding month.
Meanwhile, general manager (Kerala region) of FCI J S Saiju when contacted said that the state government requires a godown capacity of 1.40 lakh meric tonnes every month, but it has a capacity of only 90,000 metric tonnes. Therefore, we had offered them our excess capacity on a short-term lease basis. But still there is no concrete plan of action from the state government.
On the opposition from the unions in FCI, Saiju said that initially they had opposed it in the belief of privatisation and that matter has been settled.