BHUBANESWAR: Union Food and Consumer Welfare minister Ram Vilas Paswan today expressed helplessness of the Centre in taking any action against the State Government over the issues of alleged irregularities in the distribution of ration cards and violation of provisions of National Food Security Act (NFSA).
"Our duty is to provide foodgrains to the state, distribution of ration cards and ensure foodgrains reach the beneficiaries falls under the domain of the state government. The Centre does not have any power to take action against the state government in a federal structure," Paswan, who was on a two-day visit to Odisha, told mediapersons here.
Paswan was reacting to questions on largescale irregularities in the distribution of rations cards under the NFSA and announcing the State Information Commission (SIC) as the Food Commission. Cancellation of bogus ration cards in the state government's concern, he said and added Food Commission and other bodies should be constituted soon as mandated by the NFSA.
The Union Minister, however, maintained that Centre contributes `27 per kilogram of rice while the share of Odisha government is `2 per kilogram in the implementation of `1 per kilogram rice scheme.
"State Governments maintain that the cheap rice scheme is entirely funded by them, but actually the Centre bears more than 90 percent of the cost for implementation of the scheme," he said.
Referring to the demand of the chief minister Naveen Patnaik to relax the mandatory weight criteria of gunny bags fixed by the Centre at 580 grams, Paswan said that he has requested Naveen to write a letter to the textiles ministry in this regard.
The weight of a gunny bag for transportation of rice was fixed at 665 grams earlier which has now been relaxed to 580 grams. However, in Odisha many gunny bags were found to be of 445 grams which is much below the standard fixed by the concerned agencies, he said.
The union minister said that the matter is dealt by the Food Ministry, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the Textiles Ministry. "We will write a letter to the Textiles Ministry," he said and added that the state government should have rejected such sub-standard gunny bags at the procurement points.
Paswan said that the NFSA will cover all states and union territories by April, 2016. So far, 28 states including Odisha have implemted NFSA which was launched in July, 2014.