Himachal government yesterday requested the central government to provide wheat flour in place of wheat grains under Food Security Act.
The demand was made by Himachal food civil supplies and consumer affairs minister Sh. G.S. Bali while speaking in food ministers conference organised in New Delhi yesterday.
He said that there is no grinding facilities in remote rural, backward, tribal and difficult areas of the state and the people are demanding wheat flour in place of wheat grain. He added that under the Food Safety Act, the state government has to bear the expenditure of grinding wheat to provide wheat flour if any state government wants to provide flour in place of wheat.
The state government does not have sufficient funds for conversion of wheat grain into flour and demanded the reimbursement of full expenditure to the state government in this regard, he added.
Sh. G.S. Bali told that state has food grain storage capacity of around 45 days only and requested the central assistance for enhancing the storage capacity of the Food Corporation of India as well as the HP State Civil Supplies Corporation so that at least 3 months ration requirements could be stored at a time in order to meet any eventuality due to the difficult topographic condition of this state.
He said that at present the storage capacity available with the state is 55,371 Mts. and Food Corporation of India is having 34,730 Mts. He said that the State Agency i. e. H.P. State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd. is not in position to construct scientific warehouses for storage of huge capacities of food grains due to paucity of funds and requested the Government of India to provide grants for construction of warehouses to H.P. State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd. He further requested Food Corporation of India to increase its storage capacity in the State.
Sh. Bali stated that in Himachal Pradesh “Rajiv Gandhi Anna Yojna” under NFSA, 2013 has been inaugurated by Chief Minister Sh.Virbhadra Singh on 20th September, 2013 and will be implemented from 1St October, 2013.
He said that presently 100% population of state is covered under TPDS and food grains, as per scale fixed by the Government of India and are being provided to all the ration card holders through a network of 4,762 fair price shops. He thanked the Government of India for providing subsidized food grains, kerosene oil and LPG to the state.
Sh. Bali added that under NFSA, only 36,82,000 population of the state has been covered as per the act, and added that 56.23% of the rural and 30.99% of the urban population will be entitled to get subsidized food grains and further requested that the coverage of beneficiaries may be enhanced to 75% of the rural population and 50 % of Urban population as mandated in the Act.
AAY and BPL households, Annapurna beneficiaries, households getting welfare pension and Tibetan permit holders are automatically included in eligible households under NFSA which covers 26,78,804 of the population and rest 10,03,196 of the beneficiaries are to be identified by the State for which the guidelines has been issued to the Urban Local Bodies and Gram Panchayats. He assured that government shall complete the entire selection process by the end of October, 2013 positively.
In Himachal, delivery of food grains is up to the FPS level. There are 4762 FPS in the state, each FPS catering to less than 1600 ration card population.
Sh. Bali said that the state government has signed MOU with the Government of India for implementation of end to end computerization project in the state for which a proposal to the tune of Rs.16.67 crores has been sent to the Government of India for grant of funds and requested to provide financial assistance to the state for implementation of e-PDS, establishment of CCTV cameras and GPS system for stopping diversion in transportation & other malpractices in TPDS.
The District Food and Civil Supplies Controllers have been designated as District Grievance Redressal Officer at various district levels. The Divisional Commissioners have been designated as the State Food Commissioner who shall function within their respective jurisdiction. He said that the Fair Price shops are being opened at public demand as per the guidelines issued by the government and High Court orders.
He said that urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions have been involved in the identification of beneficiaries under the AAY and Priority households as per notification dated 1-08-2013. They shall also be involved as a part of the vigilance committees already operating in the state.
Vigilance committees are already functioning under TPDS and fresh Vigilance Committees are being constituted for monitoring the distribution of food grains under NFSA, he added.
Sh. Bali stated that sugar is being distributed to all ration card holders irrespective of categories. Kerosene is being issued to card holders having Single Barrel Connection and non LPG holders and temporary ration card holders in non tribal areas, whereas in tribal areas, all ration card holders are entitled for kerosene oil as per the scale fixed by the state government.