Distribution was less than release in at least 15 states
The total quantity of foodgrains released by the Centre to states under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) has come down in the last three years, whereas the distribution by states has gone up, according to government data.
The offtake / distribution by the central government was 50 million tonnes in 2019-20. This came down to 49.1 million tonnes in 2020-21, followed by 46.2 million tonnes in 2021-22, the two years marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, according to data given by Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, in the parliament December 7, 2022.
NFSA covered 813.5 million beneficiaries under two categories of households — Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households and Priority Households (PH). Each AAY household was entitled to 35 kilograms of foodgrains every month, irrespective of the number of members in the household. In PHs, each member was entitled to receive 5 kg of foodgrains every month under NFSA.
In an ongoing case on food security and exclusion of people from the public distribution system (PDS) in the Supreme Court, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for three social activists Anjali Bharadwaj, Harsh Mander and Jagdeep Chhokar, said the country’s population has increased after the 2011 Census and so has the number of beneficiaries covered under the NFSA.
Many eligible and needy beneficiaries will be deprived of the benefit under the law if it is not enforced effectively, he said.
From April-October 2022, offtake was 27.3 million tonnes, data shared December 7 showed.
On the other hand, distribution of foodgrains by states under PDS was 48.5 million tonnes in 2019-20, 49.1 million tonnes in 2020-21 and almost 50 million tonnes in 2021-22.
The data was presented as a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha by Ramesh Chandra Majhi.
This showed that a total quantity of about 172.8 million tonnes of foodgrains was released to all states / Union territories (UT) put together under the Targeted Public Distribution System during last three years and the current year (till October). About 175 million tonnes were distributed by the states and UTs in the same period, it added.
The difference between release and distribution was 2.2 million tonnes. This meant that the states distributed the additional quantity either from the previous stocks or from stocks maintained through state level procurement exercises.
The distribution was less than release in at least 15 states. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest difference of 1.1 million tonnes, followed by Maharashtra (1 million tonnes) and Karnataka (539,000 tonnes).
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