Time limit for identifying eligible households insufficient, says R. Kamaraj

Reiterating its reservations on many aspects of the National Food Security Act, 2013, the State government has demanded appropriate amendments to ensure food security for all.

Addressing a conference of Food Ministers of States and Union Territories on implementation of the Act, in New Delhi on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Food Minister R.Kamaraj said the time limit for identification of eligible households has been fixed as one year from the commencement of the Act.

The time frame is “definitely insufficient… the process is very challenging and complex” and to be based on the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), the results of which were yet to be made available by the Centre to the States. As suggested by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, he added, the time limit should commence only on completion of SECC as the Census formed the basic database for identification of eligible households.

Mr.Kamaraj said the proviso may be deleted, given that the Centre was yet to prescribe guidelines on the manner in which BPL families and eligible families were to be identified based on the SECC. In the circumstances, the limit of one year was unrealistic and bound to create many administrative difficulties exposing the State Government to needless criticism.

The Minister said the fundamental issue of shared responsibility was totally ignored in the Act and responsibility, of identifying eligible families, was fully saddled on the shoulders of the State Government.

Pointing out that Tamil Nadu government was “successfully implementing a Universal Public Distribution System which is a unique system, inclusion/exclusion criteria, issue of per unit allocation as per Section (3) of the Act and issue of fresh ration cards are not applicable to our State,” the Food Minister said. The Centre, Mr.Kamaraj said, must categorically state that the differential cost between the total requirement of rice and the allocation by the Government of India would be supplied at Rs.8.30 per kg. for a period of at least three years. This must be incorporated in the Act in the form of an Amendment.

Many issues, raised by Ms. Jayalalithaa with regard to the Act, remained unresolved. They included fixing the coverage of the urban population at 50 per cent and provision of foodgrains for migrant population.

While the urban coverage should be at least 75 per cent, there should be additional allocation of foodgrains for migrant population, he added.

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