Chhattisgarh passes improved Food Security Bill

The Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh has stolen a march over the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre by enacting the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, 2012, which provides for food entitlements to all Antyodaya households, priority households and general households without prescribing any limit on the percentage of beneficiaries in the vulnerable social groups.

The Bill that was passed by State Assembly on Friday, seeks to provide 35 kilogram/per month of foodgrains to Antyodaya (poorest of the poor) families at Re 1 per kg, to priority (Below Poverty Line) households at Rs. 2 per kg and 15 kg/month to general (Above Poverty Line) households at a rate of less than 50 per cent of the minimum support price of the grain.

Said Kavita Srivastava of the Right to Food Campaign: ``It is a very good step forward by the Chhattisgarh government to give a legal food guarantee to almost 90 per cent of its population. The UPA which has kept delaying it has lost its political point.’’

``In many ways it is an improved version of UPA’s National Food Security Bill,’’ pointed out social activist Jean Dreze.

The Chhattisgarh government will provide to the Antyodaya and priority households 2 kg iodised salt for free, 2 kg of pulses at Rs. 10 per kg in non-scheduled areas and 2 kg of black chana (gram) at Rs. 5 per kg in scheduled areas to take care of the nutrition needs of the needy families. While the Centre has gone for a socio-economic caste census to identify the poor and is dithering on who would be the beneficiaries, the Chhattisgarh government has clearly stated that it was not fixing any percentage limits of beneficiaries and “will bear all additional costs’’.