Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday launched the National Food Security Act via video conferencing from Patna’s Barah village in Punpun block. The scheme will first be implemented in Patna, Nalanda, Gopalganj and Purnea districts and will extend to the whole State by the end of the month.

The scheme, which entitles every person below the poverty line to five kgs of food grain every month at the rate of Rs. 2 per kg for wheat and Rs. 3 per kg for rice, will benefit 6.90 crore people in the rural areas and 70 lakh people in the urban areas.

Mr. Kumar criticised the Centre for downsizing poverty figures in Bihar.

“The Centre’s survey of BPL families conducted in 2006 is incomplete. We conducted multiple surveys of our own. We estimated 1.40 crore families under BPL. But the Centre had decided that in Bihar only 65 lakh families were under BPL.”

Biggest beneficiary

He said based on socio-economic and caste census, Bihar has been the biggest beneficiary of the Act.

Mr. Kumar said each of the around 25 lakh households which fall under the Antyodaya scheme will continue to get 35 kgs of food grain per month at the rate of Rs. 2 and Rs. 3 per kg for wheat and rice respectively.

Grievance

As part of the implementation, a grievance redressal system has been set up at the district and State level, according to which complaints regarding non-availability of food grain should reach the district official within 30 days and should be resolved in 15 days. Mr. Kumar also inaugurated a toll free number for a citizen grievance cell.

Door delivery

To improve the public distribution system, the State government has invested Rs. 388 crore to implement a door-step-delivery process, under which the stock of grain will reach PDS shops. Vehicles transporting the grain from the godowns to PDS dealers will be monitored using the Global Positioning System and SMSes

The Act will put an annual burden of Rs. 800 on the State.