The Centre on Thursday decided to grant an additional three months time to states for implementing the food security law that provides cheap foodgrain to two-thirds of the country’s population.
Under this law, the previous UPA government’s showpiece legislation, states are required to identify the beneficiaries of the initiative within a year of its coming into force.
Only five states – Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh – have fully implemented the legislation which seeks to provide coarse cereals, wheat and rice at Re one, Rs two and Rs three respectively, to eligible households.
Karnataka and four other states and the Union Territory of Chandigarh have partially complied with the provisions of the law, while 20 states and Union territories are yet to take any action on it.
The issue came up for discussion at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday where Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were also present.
“We have decided to extend the deadline for implementation of the Act by three months,” Paswan told reporters after the meeting.
However, a senior government official clarified that the states that have not implemented the law would continue to get their quota of foodgrains as per the earlier schemes such as the Antyodaya Yojana.
The non-implementation of the food security law would be a key agenda item for discussion at a meeting of the state ministers of food and consumer affairs convened by the finance minister on July 4.
Paswan said he had already written to the chief ministers of all states highlighting the importance of the food security law and the need to implement it in letter and spirit.
In July last year, the UPA government led by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had introduced the food security initiative through an Ordinance. It was passed by both the Houses of Parliament on September 2, 2013.