Bhubaneswar , 8/7 ( Odisha Samachar Bureau ) – Former Minister and senior Congress leader Shri Niranjan Patnaik on Monday urged the State Government to implement the Food Security Law with sincerity and support the Bill in the Parliament.
The President of India has accorded assent to the Food Security Ordinance, 2013, which has now become a law of the land. But for the past few months, the representatives of BJD government has been claiming that there is nothing new in the Food Security Bill as the State Government is already providing 25 kg of rice to the BPL families at Rs 1 per Kg. “This is an absurd and politically motivated argument. The fact is the state Government is not showing any seriousness and the sincerity to free Odisha and our country from the scourge of hunger,” said Shri Niranjan Patnaik.
“The UPA Government has been trying to create a regime of legal rights, and ever since the epoch-making laws including RTI, MNREGA and Right to Education Act, the government has now come up with another law that creates a legal right for the less privileged section over food. Once the law is implemented, any authority responsible for allowing a person to be hungry can be held accountable and even punished under section 41 of the Act. Earlier, issues related to food were looked upon as a matter of charity, now it has become a legal right. If this is not new and revolutionary, what is,” said Shri Patnaik.
As per the proposed law, there is a provision of a District Grievance Officer under Section 21, which will have the exclusive responsibility of looking into problems of hunger and will be empowered to take action against any authority responsible for neglecting the hungry. At the state level there will be a State Food Commission and at the centre, a Central Food Commission under Section 22 and 26 of the Indian Constitution. The Commission will enjoy powers of a civil court and can award punishment amounting to a fine of Rs 5000.
He further said, “I am sorry to find that the State Government is claiming that they have already done everything and nothing needs to be done at a time when Odisha is right at the bottom among states in hunger and malnutrition indices. I request the Chief Minister to sincerely implement the new law and hold any authority responsible for hunger accountable. Let there be no politics over hungry stomachs. This is not about politics.”.
Shri Patnaik said that the Central Government is already implementing the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), which has now been incorporated in Section 3 of the law. One of the major programs under TDPS is the Antodaya Anna Yojna, under which the Central Government provides 35 Kgs of food grain to BPL families. For non-BPL families 15 to 35 Kgs of food grains are provided depending on demand and previous lifting. The State Government has been providing 25 Kgs of rice in place of 35 Kgs provided by the Central Government, because they have not been able to finalize the BPL list even after being in power for 14 years, he added.