GUWAHATI, March 2 - Although the National Food Security Act came into force in Assam in December last year with the target of covering about 84 per cent of rural and 60 per cent of urban population, its implementation process has left several sections of the society dissatisfied. Allegations of discrepancy and discrimination have been rife with many questioning whether this Act would be a success if timely steps are not taken.
According to economist Dr Partha Ganguli, the loopholes in the Act need to be plugged with earnestness so that the needy are not deprived. �The government had made arrangement to reach the beneficiaries selected under the Food Security Act through the fair price shops. Rice is distributed through these shops. However, the process of selection of the beneficiaries has cast doubts in the minds of the general people. The process, they say, is not scientific,� said Dr Ganguli.
Officially under the Act almost 2.52 crore people of the State will be benefited as they will get foodgrains at highly subsidised rates. The AAY beneficiaries of the previous TPDS have been included as AAY categories of beneficiaries under NFSA�13. The eligible families from the earlier BPL, APL, MMASY card holders have been included as Priority Household families under NFSA�13. The selected AAY families get 35 kg of rice per ration card per month, while the selected Priority Household families get five kg of rice per member of the family per month.
Dr Ganguli alleged that this selection process is at the mercy of some inspectors and ward members. �Many actual BPL members are not the beneficiaries and many beneficiaries are not actual BPL. The discrepancy and discrimination have cast a shadow of doubt in the minds of the people about the success of the Food Security Act. There was also a lack of coordination as is reflected in the data of different government agencies,� pointed out Dr Ganguli, adding that the BPL data of the Directorate of Food and Civil Supplies mismatch with those of other government agencies.
It has been felt that while some states like Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa have updated their data bank to reduce anomalies to a great extent, Assam introduced this Act with no proper ground work and in a hurry to add mileage during the coming election. The old data bank with the Directorate of Food and Civil Supplies is not an updated one and no survey was conducted to authenticate the data.
On the other hand, the All Assam Fair Price Shop Dealers Association has alleged that the Act has not been implemented in the right spirit.