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Implementation of Food Security Act


Food Security Act basically aiming at providing subsidized food grains to approximately to two thirds of the country’s population and with a broader objective of providing food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach needs to be implemented in right earnest. In other words, two things are envisaged under the said Act- One to provide “adequate” quantity of food and two- at quite affordable price. Why was the Act not made practically applicable in Jammu and Kashmir , the reasons thereof having been reversed on account of political and constitutional changes of August 5, 2019 thus paving the way for an effective implementation of National Food Security Act. The UT Government reportedly having started an exercise for putting in place a detailed mechanism for implementation of the said Act of 2013 is a commendable step especially in the light of establishment of a Commission for proper supervision of how the Act was implemented. That the Commission could also attend to the grievances of the consumers and redress them in time makes the entire gamut quite effective and conveying the importance of consumer and its rights related to the Act. In this connection , since the Act provides for making Rules for implementation thereof, Jammu and Kashmir Government having accordingly prepared draft Rules titled as Jammu and Kashmir National Food Security Rules 2021 which in order to make them fully public participative, are now in public domain for receiving suggestions and ideas from them so that it could get a final shape. It is customary that the provisions of the Act are made fully known to the public by launching an awareness campaign which would pre-empt to a large extent, any scope of manipulations and operation of practices quite repugnant to the aim of the Act. There being the provision of organising regional camps in coordination with the Government , the Commission could play a significant part in generating awareness among the public and which benefits under the Act they were entitled to, made fairly known to them including informing that an effective mechanism of redressing of public grievances had been duly arranged. Once Rules are formally approved and framed , it is only through the roadmap of Rules under the Act that proper and effective implementation can take place to make the provisions and the aim of the Act meaningful in Jammu and Kashmir. The proposal of setting up of a Food Commission under the relevant section of the Act will give a new shape to the entire scheme especially in matters of complaints, grievances and other issues related to the Act to protect the interests of the consumers and, therefore , the same being vested with powers to constitute bench for deciding the appeals filed against the orders of the District Grievances Redress(al) Officer makes it an entity to supervise and monitor all the related things. Not only that, in respect of matters related to non- compliance of policy decisions of the Government regarding the Act falling in the domain of the Commission , steps could be taken to resolve the same through conducting inspections and verifications. It is also to be noted that taking along in this task, the contribution of the Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies would result in smooth delivery of services in addition to acting as watchdogs to prevent any type of illegal or unethical practices. Experiences show that at Fair Price Shops and even in Government depots, many a time common citizen consumers were denied either partly or wholly their due of getting ration at affordable price otherwise as per their entitlement and now the proposal of setting up of Vigilance Committees at Fair Price Shop levels, block and district levels as also at overall UT levels would inject the desired quantum of transparency into the distribution of food grains under the Act. When even the proposal envisages that such Vigilance Committees will be headed by Sarpanch of Panchayat concerned and a Corporator or a Councillor in respect of a Municipal Ward, chances of malpractices would be increasingly reduced and effectively checked.

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