To Be or Not to Be: NFSA Dilemma Continues
PALAKKAD: With only ten days remaining for the announced date for implementing the UPA government’s ambitious social welfare programme, the National Food Security Act (NFSA) on November 1, the state government is still not sure about its implementation.
At a time when district supply officers are busy sealing NFSA on BPL, Anthyodaya and other special cards to distinguish cards eligible for rice under NFSA, they are kept in the dark about its implementation.
When ‘Express’ contacted the Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Anoop Jacob, he said, “At present, Kerala gets grains through the Public Distribution System (PDS). For implementing National Food Security Act , the PDS must switch over to National Food Security Act . We have not received any final word from the Central government so far.”
He also said that there is a possibility to postpone the implementation of National Food Security Act and the final picture will be received only after October 27. “A secretary-level meeting will be held on October 27 at Delhi and a decision in this regard will be taken only after this,” added the Minister. He also said that the Central government is not evincing much interest in implementing National Food Security Act and recently, a few states are back to square one after implementing National Food Security Act .
“All these indicate that the National Food Security Act is less likely to be implemented on November 1. In the initial phase, the Central government was keen to implement it and later they made it optional. If a state needs to implement it, they can go ahead with it, otherwise no,” said the Minister.
He added that the state is fully equipped for the implementation of NFSA and all the state needs is a positive response from the centre.
Lack of enough storage space is our prime concern but it has been solved though an alternative mechanism. Kerala requires around 1.20 lakh MT of food grains per month to implement NFSA. But the state has only 90,000 MT of storage facility including that of wholesale dealers.
To tide over this problem, the FCI has offered about 93,000 MT storage facilities for the state in 12 FCI depots.
When contacted the district supply officer he said, “50 percent cards, which are eligible for grains under NFSA, have been given the NFSA seal and the remaining 50 percent will also be sealed. But we have not received a proper directive about its implementation.”
However, BJP state president V Muraleedharan derided the state government for blaming the centre for its inefficiency in taking adequate steps for the implementation of NFSA. “The Central government has implemented NFSA in various states and there is no logic in stating that the centre is not interested in its implementation it. If the state makes necessary arrangements for the effective implementation of NFSA, the centre will definitely provide the backing,” said Muraleedharan.
He also said that if NFSA is not implemented in the state it clearly indicates that the state government has failed to take the necessary measures for its successful implementation.