Shillong, May 23 : Meghalaya Food and Civil Supplies Minister James Sangma on Friday said the government would work out modalities to see that those not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), would get rice under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (ABA), a stimulus economic package, which was announced by the Centre recently.
Replying to a short duration discussion on the last day of the re-assembled budget session of the Meghalaya Assembly, he said that under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan migrant workers would be given free food grains of 5 kg rice or wheat and 1 kg of chana or pulses, for two months. "As there will be 10 per cent allocation for NFSA, those outside the NFSA, can be also covered," Sangma said.
Stating that the government was aware of the hardships of people in the past few weeks especially families that did not have the ration cards, Sangma said, “the government cannot be deviated from the NFSA, because the beneficiaries are only those included in the list as per the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), 2011.” The Minister, however, expressed hope that families not covered under the NFSA now, may get included as beneficiaries after conducting the SECC, 2021. Sangma admitted that there was a delay in delivering rice under the NFSA to the fair price shop dealers in view of the situation arising from the nationwide lockdown.
"However due to the hard work of officers, the food grains reached the people and whatever allotted to us, we were able to lift at the record time despite facing the difficulties," he said. Furthermore, the minister also informed that new houses come up everyday across the state within nine years from the last census and the government cannot include those families outside the NFSA and provide them rice. Admitting that there was a shortage of rice at the beginning of the lockdown due to panic buying, Sangma said that rice is now available in the open markets after the state government procured rice under the open market service scheme through the FCI. He said that the total quantity of rice procured was 11727.80 metric tons at around Rs 26 crore, which was Rs 2250 per quintal.
"This price (Rs 2250 per quintal) was the price when you lift the rice from Guwahati, but the price in the open markets varies from one place to another taking into account the transportation and labour cost. The rate is reasonable keeping in mind the cost for transportation and labour," Sangma clarified.
He also informed that many legislators approached the government to provide certain metric tons of rice but later it was felt necessary that the rice should be sent to the open markets so that the people could buy. Sangma also clarified that the rice which was reported missing in Mawshynrut area of West Khasi Hills district, was given back the remaining stocks to the beneficiaries after the intervention of the DC (supply) Nongstoiñ. On the incident at Mawshun village in Pynursla civil sub division where rice and pulse under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) was not distributed as per the quota to the beneficiaries, the Minister said that the fair price shop dealer distributed the remaining quota of 1 kg rice and 200 grams pulse to 24 families. (UNI)