In the absence of an appropriate infrastructure and set parameters for implementation of the ambitious Food Security Bill, it has been learnt that the beneficiaries covered under this Bill would get 25 kg of food grains instead of 35 kg per months as promised earlier by the government.
Officials of the Pune Divisional Supply Department (PDSD) are clueless about distributing food grains to those falling in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category, as the high-level committee of the state is yet to decide parameters for Public Distribution System (PDS) after implementing the bill in the city.
Minister for Food and Supply Anil Deshmukh chose to remain silent on number of meetings conducted to formulate the process of identifying genuine beneficiaries. It should be noted that the deadline to formulate the rules under the scheme is drawing closer, and the state is supposed to come out with a full-fledged structure by December.
But sources in the department claimed that despite giving suggestions to the high-level committee to set up parameters by October-end, the committee has not even initiated the process. They said the administrative delay might hamper the beneficiaries. The Food Security Bill was signed into a law on September 12, 2013.
“The delay is compelling us to distribute food grains under the existing PDS system, where the beneficiaries currently get 25 kg food grains per month. However, when the state will actually implement the scheme, the beneficiaries would be entitled to get 35 kg food grains per month,” said source in the PDSD. The source added that lot of changes will be made once the bill is implemented. For instance, the food grains will be given only to the woman member of the family.
“Accordingly, we have to change the name of the head of the family in the ration card. Similarly, the decision on cancelling the ration card of those from the high-income group would also be taken once the state sets guidelines. But this process needs ample time. Hence we had asked the government to prescribe parameters by October,” said another source.
When contacted, Deshmukh said he has requested Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who heads the nine-members high-level committee, to conduct the meeting regarding the implementation of the bill at the earliest as soon as possible. He assured that the bill would be enforced in the state by December. He, however, disconnected the call when questioned about the number of meetings held by the committee till date.
Commenting on the issue, Divisional Additional Commissioner (Supply) Prakash Kadam said he was awaiting directives from the state, and as soon as the government set the parameters, food grains would be distributed according to the new bill.