In News: The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to increase coverage under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) so that “more and more needy persons and citizens get the benefit” under the act.
- Bench asks Centre to re-determine NFSA coverage after considering population increase between 2011-2021.
- The Supreme Court noted that “Right to Food is a fundamental right available under Article 21 of the Constitution”.
National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013
- To provide for food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantities of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
- The Act provides coverage for nearly 2/3rd of the country’s total population, based on Census 2011 population estimates.
- 75% of rural and 50% of urban population is entitled to receive highly subsidized food grains under two categories i.e Antyodaya Anna Yojana(AAY) households and Priority Households (PHH).
- The Act entitles 35 kg of food grains as per Antyodaya Anna Yojana Households per month, whereas 5kg of food grains per Priority Households per person.
- The eldest woman of the beneficiary household (18 years or above) is considered ‘Head of Family’ for the purpose of issuing ration cards.
National Food Security Act: Provisions
- The NFSA assigns joint responsibilities to the federal and state governments.
- The NFSA mandates the centre with the responsibility of allocating and transporting food grains to designated depots in the states and UTs.
- The centre must provide central assistance to states/UTs for the distribution of food grains from authorized FCI godowns to the doorsteps of Fair Price Shops.
- States and union territories are responsible for identifying eligible households, issuing ration cards, distributing foodgrain entitlements through fair price shops, licensing and monitoring Fair Price Shop (FPS) dealers, establishing an effective grievance redress mechanism, and strengthening the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
- The NFSA also includes provisions for TPDS reforms, such as cash transfers for food entitlement provisioning.
- Direct Benefit Transfer involves the cash equivalent of the subsidy being transferred directly into the bank accounts of eligible households.
- It is beneficial to the agricultural sector.
- It also helps the government control food prices.
- Creation of job opportunities: Because agriculture is a labor-intensive industry, a boost in the agricultural sector would result in more job opportunities. This would boost economic growth and lead to a reduction in poverty.
- Health benefits: Access to nutritious food would improve the public’s overall health.
- Food security is important for the nation’s global security and stability.
- The Act fundamentally talks about hunger and its eradication but fails to take into account the evils of undernutrition and removing the same. Thus, the Act should strive to include both, Right to Food as well Right to Nutrition.
- The Act also faced opposition from the Farmer’s Union, contending that the Act would nationalize agriculture, making the Government buy, sell and hoard the majority of agricultural production.
- Furthermore, it would reduce farmers’ bargaining power and minimize the support extended to marginal and small farmers.
- The Act also allows private entities in the supply chain, which allows room for profit-making and unfair trade practices.
- The leakages and corrupt practices in the Public Distribution System and supply chain also stand as an obstacle to the efficient functioning of the Act.
The National Food Security Act of 2013 is an important step toward addressing the country’s food insecurity and hunger, but it requires restructuring and the incorporation of new changes in various areas in order to achieve its goal.
- The Court also directed States which were not able to register unorganised workers in the eShram portal to do so within six weeks.
- The Union Labour Ministry has developed a National Database of Unorganised Workers (NDUW) portal and the eShram portal for registration of labourers spread over 400 occupations including in constructions, agriculture, fishing, dairy, self-employed and even ASHA and anganwadi workers.
Must Read: eshram portal
Source: The Hindu
Previous Year Question
Q.1) With reference to the provisions made under the National Food Security Act, 2013, consider the following statements: (2018)
- The families coming under the category of ‘below poverty line (BPL)’ only are eligible to receive subsidised food grains.
- The eldest woman in a household, of age 18 years or above, shall be the head of the household for the purpose of issuance of a ration card.
- Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to a ‘take-home ration’ of 1600 calories per day during pregnancy and for six months thereafter.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 3 only