SRINAGAR: The J&K high court has directed the committee headed by the Special Secretary to government Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) to submit its report, regarding implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA), to the government within 15 days.
The directions were passed by a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magray after hearing Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, who submitted that the panel, constituted on June 11, has been tasked to find whether or not the NFSA can be implemented in the state.
He also denied his predecessor’s statement—that the state cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, would take a call on adoption of NFSA 2013 in the state—submitted before the court on June 1.
The Advocate General sought three weeks time to inform the court about the state’s decision on implementation of the Act, which the government of India enacted during UPA-II in 2013.
“The committee is directed to submit report within 15 days,” the court said and listed the case for further consideration on August 6.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by one Tariq Ali Najar of Pulwama through advocate SA Rathore.
Despite an increase in number of families from 18.2 lakh in 2001 to 22.3 lakhs in 2011, the state continues to receive food grains as per previous census even as New Delhi is allotting increased allocations for additional below poverty line families on stop-gap arrangement.
As per the central government, allocation of food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is made to the states which have implemented the Act.
While the J&K state has not implemented the Act, it is being allocated food grains as per census population of 2001 at 35 kg per family per month for the Below Poverty Line (BPL), Antodaya Anna Yogna (AAY) as well as Above Poverty Line (APL) families.
The government of India has made it a pre-condition that unless NFSA is implemented, the state will not get food grains as per 2011 census.
It has granted J&K, along with 24 other states or Union Territories, time till September to complete the necessary formalities for implementation of the Act.
“As the allocation is an exceptional measure up to September 2015 or till implementation of NFSA, under no circumstances this additional BPL allotment at BPL rates will be made beyond September,” Assistant Solicitor General of India, S A Makroo had submitted before the court on last date of hearing.
In the PIL, the petitioner has highlighted that the NFSA covers only 75 per cent of the rural and 50 per cent of the urban population under TPDS.
“The eligible persons will be entitled to receive 5kg of food grains per person per month at subsidized price of Rs 3, 2, 1 per kg of rice, wheat and coarse grains but the act is silent regarding the nonsubsidised food grains,” he says.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah and his successor Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have opposed the implementation of NFSA in the state.
Mufti had voiced his opposition to the Act in his address to the state legislature during the first government first budget session while Omar had claimed that J&K was the only state where the legislation would have “resulted in loss rather than benefit to the people”.
However, the CAPD department, according to latest Economic Survey Report, believes that the Act was a move in the right direction and provides an opportunity to improve food distribution system in the state.