On 7th August, 2013, Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi wrote to Prime Minister expressing serious concern with the National Food Security Ordinance (NFSO) promulgated by the Central Government. He said the Ordinance does not fulfill the basic objectives of food security.
In his letter, he pointed out major deficiencies in the Ordinance. He stated that in the Ordinance, unworkable statutory responsibilities have been given to Central and State governments.
- Strangely, number of beneficiaries has been fixed in the ordinance without specifying eligibility criteria and fix individual entitlements. Between different States, there could be wide regional disparities.
- Even the Standing Committee of Parliament in January, 2013 recommended that that Government should formulate eligibility criteria in consultation with the State Governments. Sadly, the Central Government has chosen to ignore the recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee.
- Ordinance proposes to reduce the entitlement of BPL families from 35 kg per family to only 25 kg per average family of 5 persons. This cannot be the objective of any food security legislation which reduces the entitlement of those who have been identified as being below the poverty line.
- As per the proposed pricing structure for the foodgrain, the BPL family will now have to incur Rs. 85 more per month to avail 35 Kg foodgrain which they are getting without the ‘Right’.
- The proposed entitlement of 5 kg per month per person implies the supply of only 165 gm per person per day. Persons involved in labour intensive activities require about 2,500 calories per day. As 100 gm of food grain gives about 350 calorie, 165 gm would provide only 500 calories per day which is hardly 20% of one’s daily calorie requirements.
- Even in the Mid-day Meal scheme, school going children are entitled to about 150 gm of food grain, and 30 gm of dal for one meal i.e. about 180 gm of grain. As against this, an ‘adult food insecure person’ is proposed to be given only 165 gm for 2 meals per day. This does not address even the ‘calorific security’, not to talk about ‘nutritional security’, which is the main objective of food security.
- On the one hand, Planning Commission has been claiming reduction in the numbers of BPL families but under the Ordinance food support is provided to about 2/3 of the population. This illogicality requires to be discussed with States.
He said in the letter that poor families have been made ‘food insecure' through this Ordinance. He requested the Prime Minister to call a meeting of Chief Ministers as it concerns both Centre and State Governments with huge implications.