Jaya opposes targeted PDS

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha on Wednesday conveyed to the Centre that the “National Food Security Bill, 2011, (NFSB)” if enacted, would slash Tamil Nadu’s foodgrain entitlement by as high as 25 per cent. She also urged the Centre not to thrust or force several features of NFSB on states.

While Tamil Nadu is now allocated 2.96 lakh tonnes of foodgrain per month by the Centre, features of the NFSB, which wants the states to move over to a Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), will cut the foodgrain entitlement to 2.24 lakh tonnes, Jayalalitha has pointed out.

 She said the Centre should “exempt Tamil Nadu from the implementation of the proposed NFSB Bill”
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  Jayalalitha’s unequivocal views on this issue were conveyed by Tamil Nadu Food Minister R Kamaraj at the Centre-convened meeting of the state food ministers and secretaries in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s report on the NFSB Bill-2011.

 Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K V Thomas chaired the meeting.
  Despite Tamil Nadu’s annual food subsidy bill having risen to Rs 4,900 crore, the state for several decades has been implementing the Universal Public Distribution System, with “strong administrative monitoring.”

Apart from rice, wheat and sugar, even special commodities like “toor dal”, “urad dal” and “fortified palmolein” are supplied to the public under PDS, Kamaraj said.

Stating that the NFSB was “replete with confusion and inaccuracy,” he said there was no clarity on classification of target group households, as “priority or general.”

The enumeration of the below poverty line families under the National socio-economic caste census was yet to be completed. Similarly, no reason had been adduced to restrict the TDPS to 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban population. Terming the division of states into Category A, B and C for the purpose of TPDS is unacceptable.

Kamaraj pleaded to the Centre that, irrespective of the financial position of the states, the Centre should share 50 per cent of the foodgrain distribution costs.

Again “direct cash transfer (DCT)” in lieu of foodgrain proposed in the bill was unacceptable to Tamil Nadu.

 The DCT under PDS “will deprive the poor of easy access and availability of foodgrain in ration shops. Such a move will severely impact women and children,” he said. “The food coupon system was also not workable. Therefore, these ideas should not be forced on the states,” Tamil Nadu pleaded to the Centre.

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