"This is in sharp contrast to the BJP's pre-election manifesto. BJP has always held that 'universal food security' is integral to national security. It had always said that the right to food does not remain an act on paper or a political rhetoric," said Kavita Srivastava, Convenor of RTFC.
Though Rs 1,15,000 crores allocated for food subsidy is higher than the food subsidy of last year, it is nowhere close to what is required to implement the NFSA across the entire country, she said. She further said that extending the deadline of implementation of the law through a letter is violation of section 42 of the NFSA.
"Government has arbitrarily extended the deadline and given states three to six months to implement the public distribution system (PDS) entitlements without any mention of food security allowance as mandatory compensation provisioned in the law", she said.
Apart from subsidised foodgrains under the PDS, the Act also provides for a daily nutritious meal for every child (at the local school or anganwadi) and maternity entitlements. "Only Rs 400 crores is allocated for the maternity entitlement scheme, the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY), which is only slightly higher than last year.
"With food inflation reaching double digits, it's also unjustified how the per child per day allocations for supplementary nutrition and school mid-day meals, legal entitlements under the NFSA for which the government has yet to notify rules, do not see any increase," said Srivastava.
The RFTC thus demanded that the government make amends by taking steps to immediately expand and implement the NFSA in letter and spirit. "We ask the NDA government to overcome the double speak and honour its election pledge for-- 'universal food security'," said Annie Raja, Secretary, NFIW.
They also demanded expansion of the PDS to ensure universal coverage of the entire population by amendment of the central legislation. They also stressed on the introduction of pulses and edible oil in the PDS in addition to cereals and also ensure that cash transfers do not replace the PDS.