So far only 49 per cent of the eligible beneficiaries have been identified and 51 per cent beneficiaries are yet to be identified in all the States/UTs, says the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, Report No. 54 of 2015 on Preparedness for Implementation of NFSA which was recently presented in Parliament.
The Report says as of October, 2015, 18 States/UTs implemented the NFSA by covering 41.69 crore beneficiaries against the total 81.34 crore beneficiaries to be covered in all 36 States/UTs.
“Eleven States/UTs reported identification of eligible households within the stipulated timeline of 365 days whereas seven more States/UTs reported identification of eligible households under NFSA during June-October 2015 taking the figure of implementing States/UTs to 18,” it observed.
National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) was enacted on September 10, 2013 by the Parliament. NFSA provides a statutory basis for a framework, which assures food security by making the right to food, a legal entitlement by providing subsidized foodgrains. The NFSA specified that identification of eligible households was to be completed within 365 days from the commencement of the NFSA, i.e., July 5, 2013.
Before implementation of the NFSA, certain crucial steps were to be taken up by the states as preparatory measures. These included identification of eligible households/beneficiaries within 365 days from the commencement of the NFSA, computerisation of PDS operation, issue of fresh ration card, arranging door step delivery of foodgrains, creating sufficient and scientific storage capacity and putting in place grievance redressal mechanism.
In this background, the Audit decided to evaluate the preparedness of the States/UTs for implementation of the NFSA. The period of coverage of audit was July 2013 to March 2015.
The reasons for delay in implementation of NFSA by non-implementing States/UTs, as mentioned by them, were non-finalization of figures under Socio Economic Caste Census, lack of infrastructural facilities, insufficient funds and manpower.
Most of the implementing States did not identify the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority household’s beneficiaries as required by the NFSA but used the old database of beneficiaries for extending the benefits.
As per the directions of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, (17 July 2013) new ration cards were required to be issued with eldest women as head of the households by the States/UTs.Audit noted that in Himachal Pradesh, 6.9 lakh old ration cards were stamped as priority household and AAY households and re-issued as NFSA compliant. In Karnataka, the State Government issued 113.23 lakh ration cards for AAY and priority households against 445.36 lakh beneficiaries identified by them. As of June 2015, 8.90 lakh bogus and ineligible ration cards were found in the existing system during seeding of Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) details. However, instead of cancelling these bogus or ineligible ration cards, State Government continued to issue foodgrains on them. In Maharashtra, the ration cards were revalidated by merely affixing stamps on the existing ration cards under different categories.
Audit observed that door step delivery of foodgrains was not implemented in Assam, whereas in UP and Maharashtra it was implemented partially. Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, door step delivery was being done by Fair Price Shop (FPS) dealers themselves against the provision of NFSA.
The CAG also observed that computerization of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) operations was not completed in the selected States/UTs and were at different stages of implementation. Audit observed that unavailability of required computer application, hardware system integrator were the limiting factors in the selected States/UTs.Inadequate digitization of the identified beneficiaries and data were observedin the States/UTs.