National Food Security Act, 2013

national food security act 2013

National Food Security Act, 2013

The Constitution of India does not recognise the right to food as a fundamental right under Article. But it can be covered under the ambit of right to live with human dignity. Article 47 also imposes a duty upon states to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living and improve public health. Food security was previously dealt with under the Public Distribution System (PDS) and the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) brought a drastic change in Food Distribution and Security schemes and protocols. After the enactment of the new Act, 67% of the population was entitled to receive highly subsidised foodgrains.


Salient Feature of the Act

Various new features of the Act has been discussed below:

1. Targeted Public Distribution System: Under this system, the households identified by the government as 'Priority Households' are entitled to 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month at subsidised prices. For targeting these types of households, Antodyan Anna Yojna was launched by the government in December 2000. Now this scheme comes under NFSA and households identified are entitled to thirty-five kilograms of food grains per person per month at prices ranging from Rs. 3 – Rs. 1 per kg. Children between the age group of 6 months to 6 years, including children suffering from malnutrition, will be provided with free meals by the local 'Anganwadi'. Children between 6 years to 14 years will be provided with mid-day meals in government schools or government-aided schools. Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be provided free meals and maternity benefits of Rs. 6000.

2. Identification of Eligible Households: The task of identifying eligible households are done by the respective states/UTs. The states/UTs can frame their own criteria or use Socie Economic and Caste Census data. People living in tribal areas or hilly areas are paid special attention.

3. Commission: The Act establishes a State Food Commission with the objective of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Act and advising the state government. The commission consists of of a chairperson, five other members and a member secretary. The commission is also tasked with preparing an annual report for presenting before the legislature and Act as the appellate authority for District Grievance Redressal Officers. 

4. Grievance Redressal: The Act provides two-tier grievance redressal mechanism: the State Commissions and District Grievance Redressal Officers (DRGO). The DRGO are appointed by the State Government, and the State Commission is the appellate authority for every complaint filed before DRGO.

5. Transparency and Accountability: Section 27 of NFSA provides that all TDPS records should be placed in the public domain. Section 28 further provides that local authorities authorised by the state government should conduct periodic social audits on the functioning of fair price shops, TPDS and other welfare schemes and take necessary actions in such manner as may be prescribed by the state government.

6. Penalties: Section 33 of the Act provides that any public servant or authority found guilty, by the State Commission at the time of deciding any complaint or appeal, of failing to provide the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer, without reasonable cause, or wilfully ignoring such recommendation, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five thousand rupees.

7. Compensation: Section 8 of the Act provides that in case of non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons, such persons shall be entitled to receive such food security allowance from the concerned State Government to be paid to each person, within such time and manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

8. Reforms in Targeted Public Distribution System: Section 12 of the Act provides that the Central Government shall endeavour to progressively undertake necessary reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System in consonance with the role envisaged for them in this Act. 

The reforms shall, inter alia, include— 

(a) doorstep delivery of foodgrains to the Targeted Public Distribution System outlets; 

(b) application of information and communication technology tools including end-to-end computerisation in order to ensure transparent recording of transactions at all levels, and to prevent diversion; 

(c) leveraging "aadhaar" for unique identification, with biometric information of entitled beneficiaries for proper targeting of benefits under this Act; 

(d) full transparency of records; 

(e) preference to public institutions or public bodies such as Panchayats, selfhelp groups, co-operatives, in-licensing of fair price shops and management of fair price shops by women or their collectives; 

(f) diversification of commodities distributed under the Public Distribution System over a period of time; 

(g) support to local public distribution models and grains banks; 

(h) introducing schemes, such as cash transfer, food coupons, or other schemes, to the targeted beneficiaries in order to ensure their foodgrain entitlements specified in Chapter II, in such area and manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

9. Obligation of the Central Government: The central government shall provide for ensuring the regular supply of foodgrains to persons belonging to eligible households, allocate from the central pool the required quantity of foodgrains to the State Governments under the Targeted Public Distribution System. 

10. Obligation of the State Government: The State Government shall be responsible for implementation and monitoring of the schemes of various Ministries and Departments of the Central Government in accordance with guidelines issued by the Central Government for each scheme, and their own schemes, for ensuring food security to the targeted beneficiaries in their State.


Amendments and New Bill

The National Food Security (Amendment) Bill, 2018 has been introduced in Lok Sabha to amend the National Food Security Act, 2013. The Proposed Changes are enumerated below:

l  The definition of 'Food Security' given under Section 2(6) should be changed and include an exception condition of war in which the supply of food to the entitled persons will not be possible.

l  The definition of 'Meal' given under Section 2(9) is to be modified and include s fresh hot cooked food made from locally procured material and does not include pre-cooked meals or take-home ration;".

l  Changes in Section 3 have to be made to entitle any person the option to take food grains of their choice rather as specified by the state government. 

l  Changes under Section 8 has to be made to substitute the words "entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals" with the words "entitled quantities of foodgrains of the recipient's choice or meals".

l  Clause (h) of subsection (2) of Section 12 shall be omitted.

l  The words, "flood, drought, fire, cyclone or earthquake" under section 44 shall be omitted the proviso given under section 44 should also be omitted.