Gujarat govt adds 30 lakh beneficiaries under food law; identifying more people

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NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (PTI): The Gujarat government has added 30 lakh beneficiaries under the food law in the recent past and it is in the process of identifying more people for coverage under this Act. The state government informed this in a review meeting of the implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), under which 5 kg of wheat and rice are being provided per person per month at a highly subsidised rate of Rs 2-3 per kg. Over 80 crore people are covered under this Act.

Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey reviewed the NFSA implementation and other allied matters with the Gujarat government at Gandhinagar, an official statement said.

During the meeting, he said there is possibility of including more beneficiaries under the NFSA.

“State Government informed that 30 lakh beneficiaries have been added in the recent past and they are in process of identifying more beneficiaries through convergence with other central programmes like National Social Assistance programme, etc,” the statement said.

As production of both wheat and paddy is higher than annual requirement of foodgrains of Gujarat State under the NFSA, it was observed that there is potential of augmenting procurement.

“It was emphasised that State Government should target procuring to the extent of annual requirement which would not only benefit local farmers but also save the transportation cost which is incurred in bringing food grains from other States,” the statement said, adding that the acceptance of locally cultivated food grains would also be higher among local population.

Pandey informed that automatic grain dispensing machines are being tested in five cities on pilot basis that enable beneficiaries to obtain subsidized food grains without having to visit FPS to provide freedom to the beneficiaries. The Gujarat government expressed its willingness to install such machines in Ahmedabad city on a trial basis.

There also seems to be potential of procuring maize considering that its production in Gujarat is in excess of 3 lakh tonnes.

“Keeping in view that the consumption of petro products in Gujarat is high, he advised that maize can be used as raw material in production of ethanol. Considering less availability of molasses, there is a need to substitute it with maize,” the statement said.

In the meeting, the Centre’s plan to modernize storage capacity was also discussed. It was informed that steel Silos of 100 lakh tonnes would be created for storage of wheat.

“As availability of land for creation of silo is a major challenge, it was stressed that State Governments should explore the possibility of providing spare land for creation of storage infrastructure,” the statement said.

The Centre also plans to phase out godowns of FCI, CWC, State Warehousing Corporations and build silos by dismantling such godowns. Simultaneously, rice silos should also be promoted.  Pandey visited the Food Research Laboratory situated at Gandhinagar as well as the newly constructed Silo complex at Bankhoda village in Ahmedabad district.

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