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
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.