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Central Government defers countrywide roll out of National Food Security Act for six months

The Centre has deferred the rollout of the National Food Security Act for the second time in a year. The deadline of October 2014 has been extended for another six months

Background

The National Food Security Act was passed in July 2013. At that time, states were given one year to identify beneficiaries and put in measures to provide subsidized foodgrains to them. However, after a year’s time, most states had still not made progress. Hence, an extension of another four months till October was given. But, since many states have still not managed to put the required infrastructure in place for implementation of the provision of the National Food Security Act, another extension of six months has been given by the Central Government.

 Lack of readiness

A large number of states wanted the nation wide rollout of the National Food Security Act to be deferred because they were not ready to implement it. The onus of identifying the beneficiaries was put on the states by the National Food Security Act. Many states have yet to finalise the beneficiaries, and there has been a lot of debate on how to identify them. Also, most states who weren’t implementing their own foodgrain distribution programs have to establish infrastructure from scratch. Information about fair price shops have to be digitised and godowns built to store enough foodgrains for such a far-reaching program. 11 states and Union Territories, namely Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi and Chandigarh have partially or fully implemented the National Food Security Act. However, many of the large states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have not yet put the required mechanism in place.

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Swachh Bharat Abhiyan approved by Cabinet

The Union Cabinet has granted its approval for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) which will be officially launched on October 2, 2014.

The main goal of the programme is a clean India with all gram panchayats being open defecation free by 2019.

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Urban) will last a span of five years and cover 4,041 statutory towns. The earlier mission on sanitation, Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, will be restructured into Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Rural). The urban component of SBA will be implemented by the Ministry  of Urban Development, and the rural component by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The total outlay is Rs. 62,009 crores with Rs. 14,623 coming from the Centre.

The scheme aims to stop open defecation through construction of IHHL (individual household latrines), cluster toilets and community toilets (especially through PPP mode). Solid and liquid waste management also forms an important component of the programme. Major thrust is being given to information, education and communication of importance of cleanliness.

A cleanliness drive under SBA was launched on September 27 in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. and will last till October 2. The Swachh Bharat-Swachh Vidyalaya campaign involving schools where cleanliness drives will be conducted, was launched by the Minister for Human Resources Development. A multi media campaign promoting cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene and focusing on creating awareness will be launched on October 2 by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Also, in a CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative, L&T has announced that it shall construct 5,000 toilets across India. Significantly, the SBA identifies CSR initiatives as one of the sources for the programme’s funding.

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