The National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) provides coverage to nearly 81.09 Crore persons to receive highly subsidised foodgrains through Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) under two categories, viz. Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Households (PHH), which is nearly 2/3rd of the country’s population as per the Census of 2011. The NFSA provides coverage for upto 75% of rural population and upto 50% of Urban population. On this basis, nearly 67% of the country’s population was to be covered under NFSA. The responsibility for identification of beneficiaries under NFSA lies with the States/UT Governments.
The process of inclusion of new beneficiaries under NFSA is an ongoing exercise under which the respective State/UT Governments try to utilize their full allowed limit of coverage by deletion of inactive/unused/bogus ration cards and include new beneficiaries in their place periodically. During the period 2013-2018, States/UT had weeded out about 3 Crore such ration cards against which new and genuine beneficiaries have been added by them.
During the COVID-19 period, since March 2020, a total of about nearly 60.70 Lakh new beneficiaries have been added under the NFSA by States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, etc. within the respective available ceiling limits. This means that, these additional beneficiaries were also able to avail the schemes like PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY).
The Department of Food & Public Distribution has been continuously allocating food grains for over 80 Crore persons/beneficiaries to States/UTs since the full implementation of NFSA.
With the view to effectively handle the public grievances under NFSA, all States/UTs have set up toll-free number/online grievance redressal systems in their respective portals. This is in addition to the existence of District Grievance Redressal Officers (DGROs), Vigilance Committees at different levels and State Food Commissions (SFCs) to rationalize the coverage of beneficiaries under NFSA. With the help of such mechanisms in place, the States/UTs are able to effectively address the grievances related to issue of new ration cards to genuinely affected persons/households.
Adequate remedies are therefore available in all States/UTs to resolve grievances related to issue of ration cards in inclusion of beneficiaries. In addition to this, the Department of Food & Public Distribution has also been addressing the issue of inclusion of new and genuine beneficiaries under the NFSA through advisories, meetings, etc.
With regard to provision of adequate quantity of foodgrains to NFSA beneficiaries during the COVID-19 crisis, the Department in association with Food Corporation of India (FCI) and State agencies has been providing nearly double the quantity of foodgrains under NFSA and PM-GKAY per month (nearly 83 LMT/month).
Under NFSA as well as PM-GKAY, an average of nearly 94% beneficiaries have been provided the foodgrains since April 2020. Independent surveys conducted by Dalberg, MicroSave Consulting, etc. in various parts of the country, have shown very high level of satisfaction of nearly 94% among the beneficiaries with regards to distribution of foodgrains under NFSA and PM-GKAY. Furthermore, the Department has conducted independent Concurrent Evaluation on implementation of NFSA by 26 Monitoring Institutions (MIs) in 27 States/UTs during the period 2018-20, and the evaluation reports have also been shared with the respective State/UT Governments.
At present, no State/UT Government has indicated any further demand of coverage under NFSA, further extension for distribution of free foodgrains to migrants under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme during the review VC meeting convened by the Secretary (DFPD) with all States/UTs on 11th August 2020.