NFSA implementation almost satisfactory in Odisha
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NFSA implementation almost satisfactory in Odisha

 

Bhubaneswar |

Last updated July 21, 2017 02:49:48 PM +0530

  National Food Security Act, Odisha, India
Odihsa is one of the good performing states so far as implementation of NFSA is concerned”. However, the state government must work to make sure that the most vulnerable communities are included on a priority basis so that they are not deprived of right to food.
 

“Ensuring food security is the priority of the government of Odisha and we will ensure that the benefit reaches to the last person,” R. Balakrishnan, Development Commissioner cum Additional Chief Secretary to Government of Odisha said while speaking at an event titled “Four years of National Food Security Act-2013: Stocktaking in Odisha,” jointly organised by Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies (NCDS), New Delhi based Centre for Equity Studies (CES) and Rupayaan, a Bhubaneswar based non-profit.

The National Food Security Act (NFSA), which first came as an ordinance in July 2013 and later become an act from September 2013, has completed four years of enactment. It provides food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach by ensuring access to adequate quantity and quality of food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.

The Targeted Public Distribution System, Integrated Child Development Services, Mid Day Meal and Maternity Benefits (the Mamata Yojana in Odisha) have become mediums of entitlement under the Act.

“In last four years and especially after the roll out of NFSA from November 2015, the state government has taken a number of positive steps, however there remain concerns both at the policy and implementation level” said Rajkishor Mishra, former state advisor to supreme court commission on right to food and one of the organisers of the stock taking event.

Harsh Mander, former special commissioner to Supreme Court of India on right to food, observed that “Odihsa is one of the good performing states so far as implementation of NFSA is concerned”. However, he suggested the government to make sure that the most vulnerable communities is included on a priority basis so that they are not deprived of right to food.

The stocktaking revealed that the government has provided ration cards to more than 99% of total targeted beneficiaries. The end to end computerization of TPDS helped in improving the system. However, the exclusion error still exists. 5 to 10% of most vulnerable beneficiaries are still out of the coverage.

Further, the target is fixed based on the 2011 census and the decadal growth of population has not been considered. More than two lakh Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) potential beneficiaries are yet to be identified and enlisted. The government has not taken steps to diversify food grains under NFSA. Framing of rules for providing food security allowance under TPDS has not taken up.

When it comes to ICDS, there are issues of poor infrastructure, i.e. 47% centres have no building and 68% have no toilets. The preschool and hot cooked meal for the children of tag villages is almost dysfunctional.

Although Odisha is a pioneering state to implement the maternity benefit scheme of Mamata, money has not been released to the beneficiaries' accounts due to procedural reasons during last 7-8 months, a field-based study conducted during last few months revealed. In both ICDS and Mamata, there is no transparency in terms of disclosing information in public domain.

While, the mid day meal is comparatively functioning better but there are issues of irregularity, delay in revising the per-child-cost norm as well as poor infrastructure.

Responding to the concern raised over the government of India directive to complete Aadhar seeding by the end of September this year, the Development Commissioner said that “the state government is committed to provide food grains to all the beneficiaries and would not refuse eligible beneficiaries for not having Aadhar number.”

Along with the Development Commissioner cum Additional Chief Secretary, State Nodal Officer of Mid Day Meal cell, Additional Secretary of Food, Supplies and Consumer Welfare department and representative of the Agriculture and Farmer’s Empowerment department of government of Odisha participated and shared their views.

A list of top ten policies asks has come from the stocktaking. This includes creating a coordination and convergence point for seven linked departments under the leadership of the Development Commissioner, Framing of comprehensive rule for NFSA, Transparency portals for ICDS and Mamata Yojana, Increasing quota under TPDS, preparing a roadmap for diversifying food grain distribution, Delinking Aadhar from accessing schemes, Provisioning and distributing food security allowance in case of denial of entitlements, Ensuring a functional internal grievance redressal mechanism and preparing guideline for the functioning of DGRO, Provisioning and building capacity of the community based institutions and Working towards the holistic approach of NFSA which are mentioned on the schedule III of the Act.

Facilitator of the event, Prof Srijit Mishra, Director of Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for development Studies, said that the observations made during stocktaking of NFSA would surely help improving the implementation of the Act in the state of Odisha.

Jitendra Rath is a Bhubaneswar based development communication practitioner.

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