Conference of Food Secretaries of States on Roll Out of National Food Security Act

Conference of Food Secretaries of States on Roll Out of National Food Security Act all the Remaining States/UTs Likely to Start Implementation of the Act by Next April 
A Conference of Food Secretaries of States/ Union Territories (UTs) on computerization of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), Fair Price Shop automation and National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) roll out was held on 23 November 2015 in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi under the chairmanship of Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
The conference was attended by the representatives of 33 States/UTs. Secretary (F&PD), CMD (FCI), other senior officers of the Department participated in the discussion along with officers from National Informatics Centre (NIC), Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Registrar General of India (RGI).
            In his inaugural address, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution emphasized the need for early implementation of the Act by all States/UTs in proper manner. He highlighted the following points in this regard:
·        Public Distribution System is an important scheme to link the Central and State Governments directly to the vulnerable people. In the erstwhile TPDS, three categories – AAY, BPL and APL – were being provided subsidized foodgrains. In 2013, NFSA was enacted to provide food security to 67% of the population in the form of highly subsidized foodgrains at Rs. 2 and 3 per Kg for wheat and rice respectively. The coverage under NFSA has been delinked from poverty estimates.
·        During the initial one year provided in the Act for identification of beneficiaries, only 11 States/UTs started implementation of the Act. Keeping in view the problems faced by some States/UTs in completing the identification process and other preparatory activities, the Government extended the time period upto 30 September, 2015.
·        Some of the States, in their eagerness to implement the Act missed the spirit of the Act to ensure that the foodgrains reach the intended beneficiary with 100% transparency. It is to be kept in view that right from lifting of foodgrains from FCI depots, the State Governments are responsible to make sure that the foodgrains reach the fair price shops without any leakage and are distributed to the beneficiaries in time. To ensure all this, they are required to correctly identify the beneficiaries, digitize the beneficiary database and place the same on PDS portal and also to have a robust grievance redressal mechanism.
·        The Government is providing both technical and financial support to enable the State Governments to computerize TPDS operations. Further, Central Government is also providing assistance in meeting expenditure on intra-State transport and handling of foodgrains and fair price shop dealers’ margin.
·        Though 11 more States/UTs have started implementation of the Act in last 6 months, 14 States/UTs are yet to roll out NFSA. The States must keep in view that it is in the interest of the common people that the Act is implemented without any further delay because not only the people get foodgrains at cheaper rates but also more number of people are covered. Such of the State Governments which are further subsidizing foodgrains will save on the State subsidy as the issue prices under NFSA are already very low.
·        There is a need for automation of fair price shops to ensure leakage free distribution of foodgrains to intended beneficiaries. For this, it is essential for the States to properly identify the beneficiaries, digitize the list with Aadhaar seeding.
·        Additional allocation of foodgrains under TPDS has not been stopped till March/April, 2016.
            The outcomes of the conference are as follows:
·        The status of preparedness for implementation of NFSA in each of the remaining 14 States/UTs was reviewed in detail by the  Minister. Except Tamil Nadu, all the other States/UTs are likely to start implementation of the Act by April, 2016. Tamil Nadu has not indicated any firm date for implementation of the Act but has indicated that computerization of TPDS is likely to be complete by June, 2016 after which implementation of the Act will be taken up.
·        The progress of end-to-end computerization of TPDS operations and FPS automation was reviewed. TPDS computerization started in December, 2012 and States have done a lot of work under the scheme in the last three years. All India progress in this regard is as under:
Number of States
Transparency Portal
Online allocation
Supply chain management
Grievance Redressal Mechanism
Toll Free Numbers
System of SMS alerts
·        During review, it was noted that States are likely to automate about 1.5 lakh FPSs by March, 2016.
·        For improving the paddy/rice procurement in general, and in the Eastern region in particular, State Governments need to pay special attention to better infrastructural facilities such as more procurement centres, storage, rice milling capacity etc. Also, there is a need to computerize the procurement operations to introduce transparency and to ensure faster payments to farmers through bank accounts.
·        States need to create better and scientific storage capacity under the PEG scheme and other schemes of the Department.
·        Best practices of Jharkhand on digitization and Aadhaar seeding and Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh on FPS automation were also shared with the participants.

Prices of essential commodities begin to ease 
The Government continued to closely monitor the availability and prices of essential commodities, especially pulses, edible oil and vegetables.  It may be recalled that as a result of demand and supply mismatch, the prices of tur and urad had shown an increase.  Following several measures, Government of India initiated including imposition of stock limit, zero duty on import of pulses and coordinated de-hoarding operations in major producing states viz., Maharashtra, Karnataka, M.P., Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the prices of pulses have begun to register a decline.  The prices of some of essential commodities as on 23rd November, 2015 and related prices a week ago are as follows:-

Over all trends indicate the prices of pulses and onions have declined, and prices of all other commodities have remained stable across the country.  The prices of tur dal, urad dal, groundnut oil and mustard oil as on 23.11.2015 relating to a week in the metros are as follows:





Prices of tomatoes have increased due to inclement weather in some major producing states viz Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.  This is expected to ease with the arrival of the new crop.

Efforts of Government of India is now focused on ensuring that in Maharashtra where as much as 87,000 MT pulses were  seized during dehoarding operations are brought to the retail market.  Maharashtra Government has taken steps for the auction of 13,000 MT tur and urad dal from the traders of BMC area.  Instructions have also been issued to district officers of other districts in Maharashtra where pulses have been seized to complete the process to bring it back to retail market at the earliest.  The process is expected to gain momentum this week.  Meanwhile, with the commencement of arrival of new crop of urad and the expected arrival of tur in the next two weeks, both FCI and NAFED have geared themselves up to undertake procurement of pulses for building a buffer stock. 

Visible decline in the prices of pulses is also a result of release of about 6000 MT seized pulses into the retail market in the states like Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

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