Ration increased by 2 kilograms per person, but at higher price

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday announced its decision to increase ration distribution scale from 5 kilograms to 7 kilograms per person, however, with 2 kilograms additional food-grains at a higher price. The order would be implemented from April 1.

Governor Narinder Nath Vohra, who presently heads the government, issued an order in this regard today after a meeting of the state administrative committee. The previous government, led by the Peoples Democratic Party, in December last announced the implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the state, which led to widespread protests as an average family would get lesser amount of ration than before.

However, today’s order increased the ration scale by two kilograms, which the government called a “path-breaking decision” and said that it would provide relief to a majority of people across the state. The additional food-grains would be provided in addition to the entitlement under the NFSA.

Below Poverty Line: According to the order, 17.85 lac people in Below Poverty Line category, upto a family size of six members, would get the additional 2 kilograms of ration at a subsidized rate of Rs 12 per kilogram of rice and Rs 10 per kilogram of wheat. However, the ration would continue to costs Rs 3 per kilogram of rice and Rs 2 per kilogram of wheat upto 5 kilograms per person per month.

Priority Class: Meanwhile, people in priority households category, would get the additional 2 kilograms of ration at the subsidized rate of Rs 20 per kilogram of rice and Rs 13 per kilogram of wheat. However, the ration would continue to costs Rs 3 per kilogram of rice and Rs 2 per kilogram of wheat upto 5 kilograms per person per month.

Non-Priority Class: The government also extended the additional ration to 45 lac people under non-priority households category. However, they would receive the additional 2 kilograms of ration on “no-profit” basis at the rate of Rs 25 per kilogram of rice and Rs 18 per kilogram of wheat.

Ration distribution

AAY category: According to the government, it would protect the dispensation available to 13.77 lac people in the AAY category who will continue to receive rations at the scale of 35 kilograms per family at the rate of Rs 2 per kilogram of wheat and Rs 3 per kilogram of rice.

A government spokesperson said, “This intervention is unique as the state will have to bear the burden of procuring the additional quantities of food-grains pursuant to the revision in the scale of ration which is beyond the NFSA level.”

With a view to implementing the above decisions from April 1, the government directed the Finance department to immediately provide additional resources to the extent of Rs. 105 crore to Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution Department (CAPD) to implement the decision relating to enhanced scale of food-grains over and above the NFSA entitlements.

Finance department shall also provide an annual “Trading Account” facility of Rs. 630 crore for upfront procurement of additional food-grains for immediate and efficient implementation of these decisions, particularly ensuring the physical availability of the required quantity of food-grains.

Referring to the concerns expressed by the certain sections of the society regarding the scale of ration being made available under the NFSA, the government spokesperson stated that the BPL families having strength of upto 6 members in particular had reservations with regard to the availability and scale of ration since the entitlement under NFSA is pegged at 5 kg per soul.

“Based on a critical assessment of the need and feasibility of possible intervention, the State Govt. decided to go beyond the NFSA framework, by way of supplementation of NFSA entitlements in the priority category (PHH), particularly in respect of BPL households, to address such concerns notwithstanding the obtaining resource position of the State,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also said that the government directed the CAPD to finalise all necessary arrangements to ensure that Atta is distributed in place of wheat “wherever required”.

The spokesperson stated that while total quantity of food-grains being made available to the State Government remained at 7.5 lac metric tones under the NFSA regime, the government decided today that it shall take up the matter with the Central Government for augmenting the present allocation, particularly in view of the typical geo climatic conditions obtaining in J&K, inaccessibility of large number of areas and low agricultural productivity. “The Governor shall be personally addressing the Union Food Ministry in regard to this matter,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson described the NFSA as a “significant leap” in providing the right to food to the ultimate beneficiary, particularly by way of creation of a dynamic database which is transparently visible on the national PDS portal and is open to speedy additions, deletions and corrections, at any time.

Under the NFSA regime, bifurcation of ration cards, which was not possible since 2001, also stands permitted for the first time, as of today a total of 9 lac new ration cards have been added to the system, the spokesperson said.