No discrimination or wrong identification of NFSA beneficiaries in Bihar, says Ram Vilas Paswan
The food minister said that the responsibility to identify beneficiaries under the National Food Safety Act rests with state governments
New Delhi: Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said there has been "no discrimination or wrong identification" of beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in Bihar, and efforts are being made to identify genuine and needy persons.
The NFSA covers about 8.71 crore beneficiaries in Bihar, including about 25 lakh Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families. Each beneficiary is entitled for 5 kilograms subsidised foodgrains as per the Act.
In a statement, Paswan said there were some reports of wrong identification of beneficiaries in the issue of NFSA ration cards in Bihar. But, the central government clarifies that the identification of beneficiaries under the NFSA is done based on certain criteria and the responsibility for this rests with the state governments, he added.
"There has been no discrimination or wrong identification of NFSA beneficiaries in Bihar. The system of identification of beneficiaries as per norms is uniform across all the states and Union territories," Paswan added.
Paswan added that in May, the Bihar government requested his ministry to enhance the monthly foodgrains allocation to cover the entire 8.71 crore beneficiaries in the state. The Centre immediately took action on the request, he added.
However, recently, the Centre asked the state government to provide a report on the coverage of beneficiaries in the state, he said.
Paswan further said the state reported that it was in the process of cleaning 15 lakh existing inactive ration cards. In addition to this, the state confirmed that about 23.39 lakh new ration cards have been issued, over and above 1.41 crore existing ration cards.
"The state has also informed that the list of NFSA beneficiaries may be finalised after completion of July month distribution, and the state does not have its own scheme for foodgrain distribution under the Public Distribution System," he added.
Paswan said the central government is providing about 55.24 lakh tonnes of foodgrains annually under the NFSA and bearing a food subsidy bill of nearly Rs 16,500 crore.
Over and above this, the Centre is also providing 34.8 lakh tonnes of free foodgrains to NFSA beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana for the April-November 2020 period with an additional food subsidy of nearly Rs 12,061 crore.
Further, under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package, an additional quantity of nearly 86,400 tonnes of free foodgrains for two months (for distribution to nearly 87 lakh migrants per month) has been provided at a subsidy of nearly Rs 322 crore.
"Thus, the Department of Food and Public Distribution clarifies that all efforts are being made for the achievement of 'Rightful Targeting' of food subsidy benefits to the genuinely needy persons/families in Bihar by the central government," Paswan added.
With a view to ease the availability of market-priced kerosene, the government has freed sale of non-PDS kerosene from regulatory control.
With his latest victory from Hajipur seat in Bihar, Paswan will enter Lok Sabha for a record ninth time.
The prices of rice, wheat and pulses have been rising steadily making it more difficult for the poor to buy grain at market price.