Subsidy burden of India's food security programme estimated at Rs1,31,086 cr

01 August 2014

The annual food subsidy bill of the central government (at 2014-15 costs) is estimated to go up to around Rs1,31,086 crore after the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA). Against, this, the annual budget has provided Rs1,10,500 crore towards food subsidy.

In addition to this an amount of Rs4,500 crore has been allotted for sugar subsidy, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply on Thursday.

Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013, the coverage under targeted public distribution programme (TPDS) has been delinked from the poverty estimates and extended to cover 75 per cent of India's rural population and up to 50 per cent of the country's urban population, the minister states. 

Based on 2011 census population, the number of persons eligible for subsidised foodgrains under TPDS is estimated at about 813.5 million, Danve stated in his written reply.

The minister said that NFSA is deemed to have come into force on 5 July 2013, adding that its implementation is contingent upon identification of eligible households by states / UTs for receiving subsidised foodgrains under TPDS. However, this exercise is yet to be completed even after a period of 365 days provided in the Act has passed, he added.

Danve said the government expects to complete the identification and other preparatory measures at the earliest so as to ensure implementation of the programme within next three months.

The issue of payment of food security allowance arises only after implementation of the Act starts in respective states / UTs, he added.

The minister stated that evaluation studies of TPDS have shown that there are instances of improper targeting of the poor households and there are inclusion as well as exclusion errors. For allocation of foodgrains (rice and wheat) to states and union territories under the existing TPDS, the department of food and public distribution uses the number of below poverty line (BPL) families based on 1993-94 poverty estimates of the Planning Commission and the population estimates of Registrar General of India (RGI) as of 1 March 2000 or the number of such families actually identified and ration cards issued to them by state / UT governments, whichever is lower.

As per these estimates, the total number of BPL families is 65.2 million, which includes about 24.2 million Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families. As per the Public Distribution System (Control) Order, 2001, state governments and union territory administrations have to review the lists of BPL / AAY families every year in order to delete ineligible families and include the eligible ones, he added.

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