The National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013, passed recently by the Indian Parliament, aims to ensure food security in India, chiefly by providing cereals at subsidized prices through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) for about two-thirds of households. The predominant line of criticism of the NFSA has been the costs of such an ambitious rights-based approach in the context of decelerating economic growth and growing fiscal deficits.
On July 5, 2013 marks a paradigm shift in the approach to food security from welfare to rights based approach. The Act legally entitles upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System. About two thirds of the population therefore is covered under the Act to receive highly subsidised food grains. The National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013 is being implemented in all the States/UTs, on an all India basis. Out of maximum coverage of 81.35 crore, around 80 crore persons have been covered under NFSA at present for receiving highly subsidized food grains. The identification of beneficiaries by States/UTs is a continuous process, which involves exclusion of ineligible/fake/duplicate ration cards and also exclusion on account of death, migration etc. and inclusion on account of birth as also that of genuine left-out households.
Percent Coverage Based on 2011-12 NSSO Data
|6||NCT OF DELHI||37.69||43.59|
|11||JAMMU & KASHMIR||63.55||47.10|
|33||DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI||84.19||51.54|
|34||DAMAN & DIU||26.66||56.47|
National Food Security Act (NFSA) , 2013
- RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER NFSA
- COVERAGE AND ENTITLEMENT UNDER NFSA
- CENTRAL ISSUE PRICE UNDER NFSA
- TIDE OVER ALLOCATION
- DIRECT BENEFIT TRANSFER (DBT)
- POWER OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT TO MAKE RULES
- Coverage and allocation under NFSA
- Financial Assistance for State Food Commission
- Central Assistance for intra-State Transportation and FPS Dealers Commission
- Rules framed by State Governments under NFSA
Objective and Important features of this act
The primary purpose of the act is to provide for food and nutritional security by making food accessible both quantitatively and qualitatively at affordable prices to people. The constitution empowers every citizen to live a life with dignity.
Identification Coverage and Eligibility of Households
Under this act, the ‘eligible households’ are defined under the following two categories:
- Households covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY);
- Households covered as the priority households under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
The Central Government on the basis of latest census figures determines the coverage of the population in the rural and urban area belonging to eligible households. As of now, the act targets 75% of the rural and up to 50% of the urban Indian population.
Food Entitlements and Security Allowance
Every household covered under the act will be entitled to a total of 5 kgs of foodgrains, per person, per month. Households covered under AAY will be entitled to 35 kgs of food grains, per month. The price not exceeding Rs. 3 per kg for rice, Rs. 2 per kg of wheat and Rs. 1 per kg of coarse grains for a period of three years. These prices would be maintained for the first three years of the commencement of the act after which the prices fixed by the Central Government (not exceeding the Minimum Support Price) shall take effect. In case there is a shortage of food grain, the beneficiaries of the act will be compensated with a food security allowance in the form of money.
Under this act, each state is required to form an internal Grievance Redressal Mechanism. These may include call centres, helplines, the appointment of nodal officers, or other such mechanism mentioned in the act.
Beneficiaries of the Targeted Public Distribution System
The beneficiaries of the TPDS are divided into three main categories:
- Households above the poverty line (APL)- APL households were not identified and any household above the poverty line could typically apply for an APL ration card
- Households below the poverty line (BPL)- The TPDS covers the beneficiaries of BPL. According to the act, they will be provided with a Food Security Ration Card (FSC).
- Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY)- The AAY scheme sole focus were the poorest amongst the BPL families. Launched in December 2000, people under the following categories are entitled to an FSC:
- Landless agricultural labourers
- Marginal farmers
- Rural artisans/craftsmen such as tanners and potters,
- Slum dwellers,
- Persons engaged in the informal sector such as porters, rickshaw pullers, cobblers,
- Destitute people
- Households headed by widows or terminally ill people, disabled persons, persons aged 60 years or more with no assured means of subsistence
- All primitive and tribal households.
TPDS Entitlements and Beneficiaries
|Category||Beneficiaries (Rs. in Crores)||Foodgrains Allowed (KG)|
|APL||18.04||15 – 35|
In order to liquidate the excess stock of food grain in the Central Pool, Government of India avails the available options of disposal of the excess stock of food grain through Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) and Export on Government-to-Government basis, as export from public stock holding is not compliant to WTO norms.”