The Government of India has accorded high priority to the issue of hunger and malnutrition in the country and is implementing several schemes and programmes through State Governments and UT Administrations to improve food security situation in the country.
These include Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), Wheat Based Nutrition Programme (WBNP) for providing Supplementary Nutrition, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme for pre-school children and pregnant and lactating mothers through the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Mid-Day-Meal Scheme (MDM) for primary and upper primary children through Ministry of Human Resource Development, Annapurna Scheme for the senior citizens, Nutritional Programme for Adolescent Girls, Emergency Feeding Programme, etc.
National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) provides for coverage of up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population for receiving food grains (rice, wheat and coarse grains) at highly subsided rates.
Thus, 81.35 crore persons which constitute about two-thirds of the population is covered under NFSA. This coverage has been delinked from poverty estimates. The eligible families under NFSA comprise of priority households and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) families.
Priority households are entitled to receive 5 Kg of food grains per person per month at highly subsidised price of Rs.3, 2 and 1 per Kg. for rice, wheat and coarse grains respectively.
The existing AAY households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 Kg. of food grains per household per month. The Act also provides that in case annual allocation of food grains to any State under the Act is less than the average annual offtake of food grains for the last three years under normal TPDS, the same shall be protected.
Implementation of the Act has started in 30 States and Union Territories (UTs), covering about 68 crore persons. Food grains allocation under erstwhile TPDS is being continued in remaining States and UTs.
Government of India has provisionally allocated 289.46 lakh tonnes under NFSA and 207.31 lakh tonnes of food grains under erstwhile TPDS during current year.
Further, an additional 50.01 lakh tonnes of food grains have also been allocated during the current year for Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) families to the States and UTs where NFSA has not been implemented.
In addition, during the current year, 11.70 lakh tonnes of food grains have been allocated to the States for festival, calamities and other additional requirements.
The Government has also allocated 52.18 lakh tonnes of food grains under Other Welfare Schemes such as Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Annapurna Scheme, SC/ST/OBC Hostel Scheme, Welfare Institutions Scheme, SABLA Scheme and Wheat Based Nutrition Programme Scheme.
The Act also has a special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to meals as per nutritional norms as well as to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs.6,000.
Children up to 14 years of age are entitled to meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards. Higher nutritional standards have been fixed for malnourished children up to 6 years of age.
In case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.