There will be no increase in the price of food grains supplied to the State

Seeking to dispel the impression that the Food Security Act was against the interests of States like Tamil Nadu, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday said Tamil Nadu was ranked fourth among the States that would gain immensely from the law.

“I am not making a political statement. I am giving facts and figures. If you look at the beneficiaries, 63 per cent of rural and 38 per cent of urban Tamil Nadu will benefit from the Act. The food subsidy for Tamil Nadu will also go up,” he told reporters at Sathyamurthy Bhavan on Wednesday.

37 lakh tonnes of food grain

He also made it clear that contrary to the current fears, the State would continue to receive its entitlement of 37 lakh tonnes of food grain. There would be no increase in the price of food grains supplied to the State by the Centre for the next three years as the prices had been frozen.

Mr Ramesh said if some States would benefit more than Tamil Nadu, it was because poverty in those States was more.

“Tamil Nadu should feel proud that its poverty is lower. But no State will be worse off after the Food Security Act,” he said.

He said the foundation for the State’s well-functioning public distribution system was laid during the Congress government led by Kamaraj.

“There are 34,000 rations shops in Tamil Nadu. States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala had always had well-functioning public distribution system. This is not something new. The foundation for Tamil Nadu’s success was made 50 years ago,” he explained.

The minister went on to explain that in the North Indian States, particularly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the leakage was more and coverage less and the Act was oriented primarily for States such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which suffer from acute poverty and malnutrition. “South India is not in the same category. South India should feel proud that it is more advanced. Even so the Centre has taken a decision that no State will lose after implementation of the National Food Security Act,” he said.

Asked about the allegation that the new law was penalising States like Tamil Nadu that had better development by reducing coverage, Mr Ramesh said the coverage numbers were ascertained taking into account poverty estimates of the Planning Commission. To a question why the Congress had not announced its Prime Ministerial candidate for the Lok Sabha polls like the BJP, he said general elections were not a personality contest.

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