The Chhattisgarh State government’s Food Security Act passed on Friday goes further than the UPA’s bill by extending food security to nearly 90% of the State’s population. Further, the Chhattisgarh Act clearly states that the entitlements shall be on household basis with a family size of 4.47 in rural and 4.79 in urban areas. This is opposed to the central government limiting provision of foodgrains for the Public Distribution System to per person rather than per household.

Going beyond the Centre’s definition of Antyodaya, the Chhattisgarh government has declared as “Antyodaya households” all families of “vulnerable social groups” including tribal groups, widows or single women, terminally ill persons, physically challenged persons, elderly-headed households with no assured means of subsistence and persons freed from bonded labour. Pregnant women, lactating mothers, malnourished children, children between six months and 14 years and all students in hostels or ashrams will get mandatory subsidised foodgrains.

The State has 78 per cent rural and 22 per cent urban population.

The Chhattisgarh Act provides for exclusion of all households that are income tax payees. In non-scheduled areas all such households that own more than 4 hectares of irrigated land or eight hectares of non-irrigated land have been excluded from the Act. In addition, in urban areas all such households that own a pucca house (concrete roof) of carpet area of more than 1,000 sq ft and are liable to pay property tax have been excluded. By this yardstick the government estimates exclusion of 10 per cent households and a reduction of eight per cent in Above Poverty Line households who are currently beneficiaries.

“The proposed legislation marks a basic change in the idea and method of addressing the problem of food security from the current welfare approach to rights-based approach…The objective of the Bill is to ensure adequate food at affordable prices for all eligible households in the State with dignity and in pursuance of their right to be free from hunger and other deprivations associated with lack of food,’’ states the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill.

The Act will be notified in six months.