Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh does not favour proposed cash transfer for food and will not implement the scheme in his State.
“Food security means taking food to people’s doorstep,” he told journalists here on Saturday.
The Chief Minister said that while cash transfer may be okay for fertilisers and other welfare schemes, it was not required as a substitute for grains. “If you give Rs. 600 in the hands of a poor person without a proper banking system, banks being far-flung and fluctuations in food prices, the idea will not work.”
Mr. Singh said he had opposed the proposal when he was part of a sub-committee formed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on food security with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia as the Chairman. “Yet the government is planning to bring forth the measure,” he said.
After enacting a “forward-looking” Chhattisgarh Food Security Bill, 2012, to provide discounted food entitlement to 90 per cent population in the State, he suggested that the Centre should quickly bring forward a similar legislation.
The Union Food Ministry’s Bill has been referred to a Standing Committee of Parliament and did not come up in the just-concluded winter session of Parliament
The State government will pick up an additional subsidy bill of Rs. 2,300 crore from its own resources to provide subsidised rice, wheat and pulses to 90 per cent of its population. About 20 per cent additional foodgrains will be required to fulfil the government’s obligation under the Act.
“We will buy the additional grain from the open market and bear the subsidy,” he said, adding that the State is also focussing on providing proteins to the poor by giving subsidised pulses through the public distribution system.
He claimed that through such interventions in the last four years, Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate had decreased in the State.
As per the new Act, passed in the State Assembly on Friday, about six lakh income tax-paying people will be left out of the purview. The Act says ration cards will be made in the name of the eldest woman member of a household.
Asked if all BJP-ruled States should enact a similar law, he told The Hindu, “All States must enact.”