Jayalalithaa: Replace Food Security Ordinance

Chennai, Aug 3: Flaying Centre for “unilaterally” and “hastily” promulgating the National Food Security Ordinance 2013, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to replace the ordinance with a Bill
jayalalithaa replace food security ordinance -...
PTI August 03, 2013 16:27 IST
Chennai, Aug 3: Flaying Centre for “unilaterally” and “hastily” promulgating the National Food Security Ordinance 2013, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to replace the ordinance with a Bill which addresses the state's concerns.

“The union Government has unilaterally and hastily promulgated the National Food Security Ordinance, 2013.  Though the Ordinance claims to provide food security to all, unfortunately, contrary to such a claim, there are several flaws in the Ordinance which have created serious apprehensions and actually raise the spectre of food insecurity for a State like Tamil Nadu,” she said.
She suggested certain amendments be made in the Bill that is proposed to replace the Ordinance in Parliament.
“There must be a fool proof and firm guarantee in the legislation through an appropriate clause in Chapter VIII of the Ordinance in order to ensure continued adequate level of allocation of food grains to States that are already implementing a Public Distribution System.  

“This provision should ensure that the present total allocation of food grains to the State under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, BPL and APL categories is not reduced”, she told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a letter.
The proportion of urban population must be increased from 50 per cent to cover the entire urban population, she said, adding, the supply of food grains by the Central Government at the rate currently proposed should be guaranteed, and “not restricted for a period of only three years”.
She ‘strongly' urged Singh to ensure that the concerns of Tamil Nadu are addressed through the inclusion of appropriate amendments in the Bill that the Government of India intends to place before Parliament to replace the Food Security Ordinance.

“The Government of India is duty bound to protect the food security of States like Tamil Nadu.Respecting federal and democratic principles, any such Bill should be passed only after a detailed consultation with the States on the whole gamut of issues and after addressing specific concerns of different States and after adequate discussion in Parliament.”

Jayalalithaa said many “lacunae” had been already pointed out in her previous letters besides being reiterated by her Ministers and officers in several meetings.  
“Very disappointingly, and as has become the Central Government's won't, none of these serious concerns have been addressed in the hurriedly promulgated Ordinance,” she said.

She said the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) of 2011 should form the data base for an identification of households.  

This census process has not been completed and the data was yet to be shared with the State Governments in a final, usable form, the Chief Minister said.

“It is learnt that the Government of India is yet to prescribe guidelines on the manner in which eligible families were to be identified based on the SECC data base.
In these circumstances, the requirement of finishing the identification of eligible households in six months time is unrealistic and is bound to create many administrative difficulties, exposing the State Governments to needless criticism”, she said.

“Under these circumstances,I would scarcely be exaggerating if I stated that, for Tamil Nadu, this Ordinance is actually a Food Insecurity Ordinance”, she said.
Jayalalithaa said that Tamil Nadu has been successfully implementing the Universal Public Distribution System for the last several decades and that it has won several accolades including from the Supreme Court.

“Through this system, the State has been able to address the issue of food security for all without exception. To preserve this hard earned food security, it is essential to ensure that the present level of allocation of food grains from the Central Pool is retained without any diminution.
“Therefore, we had repeatedly requested that a provision be inserted in the relevant clause of the Food Security Bill to protect the existing level of allocation of food grains for Tamil Nadu,” she said.

Jayalalithaa said she was “deeply dismayed” to find that the Ordinance as promulgated contains no such provision.
Tamil Nadu with an urban population of 49 per cent has the highest level of urbanisation among major States in the country and will be particularly hard hit by this “ill-conceived and invidious discrimination against urban areas in the Ordinance”, she said.

Further, the state was not likely to receive even the nationwide average allocation based on the population proportion as the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs had indicated a state-wise break-up of allocation seeing which she was “shocked,” she said.

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