General Studies IIGOVERNANCE

NITI Aayog to lower the coverage in food security law


NITI AAYOG, the government think tank, has recommended reducing the rural and urban coverage under the National Food Security Act, 2013, to 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, which it estimates, can result in annual savings of up to Rs 47,229 crore.

Key highlights:

  • The NITI Aayog has suggested updating the population level which is currently based on Census 2011.
  • At present, National Food Security Act (NFSA’s) rural coverage is equal to 75 per cent of population and urban coverage is 50 per cent of urban population. Overall, NFSA caters to 67 per cent of the total population.
  • Under the NFSA, each Antyodaya Anna Yojana household (approximately 2.37 crore households or 9.01 crore persons, as on February 1, 2021) is entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per month, while the priority households (approximately 70.35 crore persons) are entitled to 5 kg per person per month.
  • Based on the rural and urban coverage ratio, the erstwhile Planning Commission had determined the state-wise coverage ratio using the National Sample Survey Household Consumption Expenditure coverage under food security law Survey data for 2011-12. The coverage ratio has not been revised since the law came into effect on July 5, 2013.
  • In the past decade  Act provided the  reduction in amount of savings Government can have on part of food subsidy which can further be utilised in other important areas of concern such as health and education, especially in the present pandemic time, it is recommended to reduce the National Rural-Urban Coverage Ratio under NFSA to 60-40 from 75-50 while updating the population level to the present level (based on population estimates),” states the discussion paper.
  • The paper released by NITI Aayog  estimates that if the national rural-urban coverage ratio remains the same (75-50), then updating of population level from Census 2011 to the present level (projected population in 2020) will expand the total number of people covered in the NFSA from existing 81.35 crore to 89.52 crore —an increase of 8.17 crore. However, if it is reduced to 60-40, the number of beneficiaries under the NFSA, will drop to 71.62 crore.
  • Food Ministry official said, “There is no formal proposal as yet. The department does not have powers to change the [NFSA] law. Only parliament can amend the law,” the official said.
    • The National Rural-Urban Coverage Ratio has been fixed under Section 3(2) of the NFSA, 2013. “The entitlements of the persons belonging to the eligible households referred to in sub-section (1) at subsidized prices shall extend up to seventy-five per cent. of the rural population and up to fifty per cent. of the urban population,” Section 3(2) of the NFSA states.

Shanta Kumar committee

The report had recommended reducing the coverage ratio from 67 per cent of population to 40 percent. “HLC (High Level Committee) also recommends to have a relook at the current coverage of 67 per cent of population… HLC’s examination of these issue reveals that 67 per cent coverage of population is on much higher side, and should be brought down to around 40 per cent, which will comfortably cover BPL families and some even above that…,” said the report of the High-level Committee on Reorienting the Role and Restructuring of Food Corporation of India.


Source: Indian Express


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