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Food for aam aadmi

The cup of woes may be brimming over for the aam aadmi but he has got a lot to look forward to in his plate — in the New Year....

Written by Ravish Tiwari |
January 1, 2010 3:55:03 am

The cup of woes may be brimming over for the aam aadmi but he has got a lot to look forward to in his plate — in the New Year.

If rain gods keep smiling and the Centre succeeds in its plan,those below poverty line (BPL) can hope to get 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at Rs 3 per kg — an ambitious programme envisaged under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). If the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) distinguished the UPA-I,the NFSA could be the distinction of the UPA-II.

The President’s address to the joint session of Parliament in June last year had promised the NFSA,but the government could not make much progress because of one of the worst monsoons in the past four decades. All eyes are now set on 2010.

However,it may not be smooth sailing,with the NFSA likely to face competitive demands from state governments. In the initial discussions,the states had pressed for enhancing the grain quota from 25 kg per household to 35 kg per household at Rs 2 a kg.

Then identification of beneficiaries and BPL families is likely to generate political heat as many states have distributed more ration cards than the number of BPL families enumerated by the Plan panel. The state governments are unlikely to bring down the number of the proposed beneficiaries. One may expect a meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) for chief ministers to agree on the final shape of the scheme.

The coming Assembly elections in Bihar (scheduled for this year),and polls in West Bengal and Kerala in 2011 may drive the government to push through the NFSA.

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