Gujarat says it's ready to implement food scheme

Decision comes after SC flays delay in implementation

Gujarat says it's ready to implement food scheme
The Gujarat government is ready to roll out Food Security Act (FSA) in the state and would submit its detailed reply to the Supreme Court on February 12.

“We have made all the requisite arrangements and identified beneficiary families on the basis of a socio-economic survey. The list of beneficiaries in all the villages has been prepared by our panchayat department. We are now about to begin similar activity in urban areas,” Gujarat government spokesperson Nitin Patel said on Tuesday.

Patel was responding to questions on the Supreme Court observations against Gujarat government’s failure to implement Food Security Act passed by Parliament in September 2013.

On Monday, the apex court came down heavily on some states, including Gujarat, for delay in implementation of the National Food Security Act, questioning their adherence to the federal scheme.

“What is Parliament doing? Is Gujarat not a part of India? The Act says it extends to whole of India and Gujarat is not implementing it. You want to break away from India. This law was passed by Parliament but the states are not implementing the Central law,” the apex court had observed.

As per the Act, the state governments need to finalise and publish a list of eligible households in all the cities and villages. It then needs to invite objections from citizens and make necessary corrections.

“Our panchayat department has started the process of inviting objections by organising gram-sabhas at various places,”said Gujarat Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, adding that Gujarat would implement the National Food Security Act by April.

“We were granted extension by the Centre in the past and are working on implementing the scheme as per the approvals,” Chudasama said.

Ironically, former Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi complained to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh in August 2013 that FSA does not provide for two square meals for an individual. Modi was particularly opposed to the reduction in foodgrain allocation to families.  “In my clear view, this does not contain the basic tenets which any food security legislation should meet and is unlikely to achieve the objectives for which the Union government has taken this step,” Modi wrote to Singh.

When asked if this was the main hurdle for Gujarat not being able to roll out FSA, Nitin Patel denied and said, “We are committed to implementation of Food Security Act and shall inform SC of our intent at next hearing.”
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