Fast-track courts to try hoarders, 3 more months for implementing Food Security Act

To keep a check on inflation in the wake of a weak monsoon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday pushed for “proactive” coordination between the Centre and States in implementing contingency plans and asked the States to set up fast-track courts to sternly deal with hoarders.

At a high-level inter-ministerial meeting convened by him to discuss food security and monsoon situation, the Prime Minister reviewed the availability of water and seeds and directed that fodder grids be formed for a long-term solution to the problem of drying grazing lands for livestock in rain-fed areas.

The meeting, attended among others by Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Ram Vilas Paswan, Radha Mohan Singh and Uma Bharti, decided to extend by three months the period till when States should implement the National Food Security Act, which provides for concessional foodgrains to 75 per cent identified beneficiaries. Earlier, State governments had to implement the Act by July 4, 2014, within 365 days of it coming into force (on July 5, 2013). Only five States are ready for implementation of the Act.

Monsoon was deficient by 45 per cent till June 20 and kharif sowing was lagging by 17 per cent as compared to the corresponding period last year. Monsoon has so far been delayed in parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, hitting kharif sowing in paddy and cotton.

It was informed at the meeting that monsoon will revive by July 7 and the El-Nino effect in August-September will be lower than initially expected.

Steps to tackle inflation were yielding results and the Agriculture Ministry was ready with a contingency plan for 500 districts in case the monsoon failed to revive, the Prime Minister was informed.

On Wednesday, the government announced only a modest hike in the minimum support price of paddy and pulses to contain inflation.

Rising prices of vegetables, fruits and cereals pushed up wholesale price index-base inflation to a five-month high of 6.01 per cent in May.

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