Mizoram, Manipur to soon implement food safety act

Aizawl/Imphal/Agartala: The Mizoram government will implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from November while its Manipur counterpart would do so likely in January 2016, the ministers of these states said on Friday.

With more sops, the Left Front government in Tripura has introduced the NFSA of 2013 from September 1. The other north-eastern states, including Assam, have not yet announced the time for implementation of the NFSA.

“The Mizoram government has decided to implement the NFSA from November. Necessary arrangement for making available rice to those excluded from the scheme would be made through the Public Distribution System (PDS),” Mizoram’s Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister John Rotluangliana told reporters in Aizawl.

He said that 706,296 people out of around 11 lakh population of Mizoram would be provided rice at subsidised rate under NFSA while the remaining households would be able to buy eight kg rice per month at the rate of Rs.15 per kg.

In Imphal, Manipur’s Food and Education Minister M. Okendro said the state government would begin NFSA implementation from January next.

“Work on computerisation of data and digitisation of ration cards are in advance stage for the implementation of the food security Act,” the minister said.

The minister along with senior state officials held a meeting with his Tripura counterpart Bhanulal Saha in Agartala recently and gathered information about the implementation of the NFSA in Tripura.

“From September 1, we are providing rice at the rate of Rs.2 per kg instead of Rs.3 per kg, as stipulated in the Act,” Saha told reporters in Agartala.

Saha said: “According to the NFSA, only priority households and extremely poor families are entitled to subsidised food grain. However, we have decided to continue TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) to all 969,000 ration card holders comprising priority and non-priority households. The non-priority households would not get any subsidy on food grain.”

An additional annual expenditure of Rs.16.73 crore would be borne by the state exchequer to provide food grain subsidy for priority households.

The Tripura minister said that families belonging to above poverty line or non-priority households, which are outside the ambit of NFSA, would be provided rice at the rate of Rs.13 per kg and five kg per head per month, subject to a maximum of 15 kg for a family instead of earlier 20 kg.

“Tripura is the first state in the whole eastern and north-eastern region of India to implement the NFSA,” Saha added.

The deadline to implement NFSA has been extended thrice. According to a central government report, the NFSA has been implemented by 13 states and two union territories so far.

To implement the NFSA, the entire TPDS system has to be computerised and the ration cards digitised.

Under the NFSA, which came into force on July 5, 2013, under the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, each eligible person would get five kg of food grain a month – rice at Rs.3 per kg, wheat at Rs.2 per kg and coarse cereals at Re.1 per kg – through the state governments.

The NFSA entitles up to 75 percent of the rural population and up to 50 percent of the urban population to receive food grain at subsidised prices.