Preparation of new BPL list in the State suffers a blow

N.J. Nair

Centre’s decision may make State government effort futile

Punitive provisions in food security Act likely

Meeting of Food Ministers proposed

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Union government’s insistence on fixing the number of below poverty line (BPL) families has come as a jolt to the initiative of the State government to revise the BPL list and set up a permanent mechanism to redress the grievances from time to time.

Official sources told The Hindu that the enumeration of the list has been completed and the final list is expected to be published by September. But the Union government’s decision to fix the number of eligible families and individuals on the basis of the poverty estimates of the Planning Commission in 2004-05 and the population estimates of March 2009 may make the enumeration and publishing of a new list a futile exercise.

Since the Centre has clarified that it would accept only the 10.26 lakh families fixed by the Planning Commission, the final list set to be published by the State government will continue to remain invalid.

State autonomy

The Centre is considering an option to do away with the autonomy enjoyed by the State governments to extend the subsidised distribution of grains to more families and individuals with their own budgetary support. This possibility is being explored in the light of the fact that some State governments are distributing food grains to BPL families at much lower prices than that fixed by the Centre. It has been proposed to incorporate punitive provisions in the National Food Security Act to deal with violations of the Centre’s directives in this regard.

One of the major advantages of the proposed Act is that it calls for a mandatory annual review and updating of BPL ration cards by the State governments so that the ineligible could be easily weeded out. It will also help to bring more eligible families within the fold.

The State government has already resolved to take the lead in garnering the support of other States to protect the Targeted Public Distribution System and seek more powers to make additions to the BPL list in view of the local realities.

The government has decided to host a meeting of Food and Civil Supplies Ministers to discuss the issue. But it remains to be seen whether it would be able to garner the support of other States to press its demands.

Recommended for you