The State Government may skip the deadline for implementation of the food security programme under the National Food Security (NFS) Act as the beneficiary identification process is yet to be completed.
Even as the State is required to identify the targeted beneficiaries within a year of promulgation of NFS Ordinance by July 4, 2014, it is yet to take a decision on the exclusion criteria to separate the high income group from the food security programme.
A task force headed by Development Commissioner had recommended to the Government a set of criteria in January to identify priority households through a process of exclusion based on different surveys including Socio-Economic Caste Census, 2011. Though three months have passed, the Chief Minister’s Office is sitting over the file. The task force is reported to have recommended that owners of motor vehicles including two-wheelers and three-wheelers, registered fishing boats and mechanised three-wheeler or four-wheeler agricultural equipment such as tractors should be excluded from the Act.
Besides, families with a member having monthly income above `10,000, pension holders getting a monthly payment of `10,000 and any member paying income tax or professional tax will not be eligible.
Families with a landline and electricity connection with 2KW or more and using more than 300 units of electricity per month should not be covered under the Act, the task force report stated.
The exclusion criteria also include families which have a member who is a Government employee in Central, State, public sector or autonomous institutions aided by Government and Municipalities.
The Government was also in talks with Income Tax department for sharing the details of income tax payee in the State.
As per the beneficiary ceiling prescribed by the Centre, the Government is required to identify 77.8 per cent (82.17 and 55.77 per cent of the rural and urban population respectively) of the population as beneficiaries who will be classified as priority households.
The number translates into 3.26 crore out of 4.19 crore population as per 2011 census, official sources said.
While the entitlement of the existing BPL households stands protected at 35 kg of rice per month, the priority households will be entitled to 5 kg per person per month.
If the exclusion criteria recommended by the task force is accepted, there is a possibility of large scale exclusion of the existing BPL families who have been enjoying 25 kg of rice at `1 per kg. The Government is sitting over the matter as it does not want to antagonise people during elections, sources said.
The other reason is that the subsidised food grains to be provided under the new law is about half the consumption by the poor, both in urban and rural areas. As per the report of the national sample survey organisation, the national per capita consumption is about twice the entitlement under NFSA.