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Ram Vilash Paswan discusses about Food Security Act with Bihar leaders

NEW DELHI: In order to implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA) effectively in Bihar, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan called on a meeting of all stakeholder under “Khadya Suraksha Panchayat” Sunday.
About 8.71 crore people have been covered as beneficiaries in the state under the Act. On the receipt of data of about 7.61 crore beneficiaries from the State , about 4.1 lakh tonnes foodgrains are being provided by the Centre monthly which comes to about 49 lakh tonnes annually. The Centre expect the state Government will provide data of remaining beneficiaries soon so that they also get benefit of subsidized foodgrains.

Addressing the media after the open discussion, Ram Vilas Paswan, said that his Ministry is pursuing the Bihar Government to implement the NFSA (National Food Security Act) effectively and a number of communications have been sent to the State Government to complete all the remaining work for this purpose. He said that all the beneficiaries are yet to be issued fresh ration cards to avail subsidized foodgrain under the Act. Still a number of the eligible beneficiaries are not getting their food quota due to poor delivery mechanism, “Out of the 8.71 crore beneficiaries in Bihar (85 per cent in rural areas and 74 per cent in urban area) under the Food Security Act, about 1.11 crore people have not been issued fresh ration cards for availing their food quota at subsidized rate of Rs two per kg wheat and Rs three per kg rice, even after rolling out of the Food Act in March 2014 in Bihar he noted. He said that National Informatics Center has urged the State Government to upload the details of remaining beneficiaries on PDS portal which is still awaited. Meanwhile State has reported 49.74 lakh additional beneficiaries, however, they can get subsidized foodgrains under the Act only after their details are also uploaded on PDS portal by the State.

Paswan said that the Centre is very keen to make the PDS system more transparent in the Bihar by implementing end to end computersation. Financial assistance of Rs 17.89 crore was provided to the State in 2013-2014. Utilization certificate from the States is still awaited for the release of more money for this purpose. State has been requested to take up automation of foodgrain gowdons, movements of food grains and SMS alerts system for informing beneficiaries about their allocation. Report in this regard is yet to be received from the State Government. The ministry has also urged the State to provide more information to the beneficiaries through transparency portal as has been provided by other states. He assured that Centre will provide all possible support to the state in this regard.

Referring to procurement of foodgrains in the State, Paswan said that Bihar is a DCP State from KMS 2013-14 onwards; hence it is supposed to procure wheat & paddy for Central Pool through State Agencies. But he regretted that the procurement process in the State is very slow and sufficient infrastructure has not been created for this purpose. A notification regarding procurement of wheat during current Rabi is yet to be issued by the State Govt. The Govt. of India has already granted extension for paddy procurement thrice on the request of State Government for KMS 2014-15, he added.

Regarding State Government’s claim for food subsidy, Paswan said that he has directed his Ministry to release admissible amount promptly to the State. In 2013-14, against the claim of Rs.14.61 Crore, an amount of Rs.14.40 Crore was found admissible and was released to the State Govt. Similarly for 2014-15 ( from April, 2014 to December, 2014 ), against the claim of Rs.1452.08 Crore, an amount of Rs.1430.99 Crore has been found admissible and has already been released to the State Government under DCP Scheme . In addition to this, the State Government has also claimed Rs.1264.10 Crore in advance against ongoing procurement under DCP mode for 4rth quarter of 2015. Out of this also, Rs.302.41 Crore has been found admissible and already released in last month by the Govt. of India.

He asserted that Food Corporation of India (FCI) has sufficient stockpile of foodgrains to meet Bihar’s requirement.

Among others present on this occasion were Members of Parliament and leaders of various political parties of the State  including Ram Kripal Yadav, Union State Minister, Drinking water & Sanitation, Ram Chandra Paswan, MP, Chirag Paswan, MP,  Veena Devi, MP,  Sushil Kumar Modi, Leader of opposition, Bihar Bidhan Parisad, and  Nand Kishor Yadav, Leader of opposition, Bihar Bidhan Sabha.