Food Security Act
14th April, 2016
The State government should implement the Food Security Act (FSA) immediately. The whole Public Distribution System (PDS) in the state has become a looter’s paradise for a few corrupted people. It is marked by rampant corruption whereby wholesome diversion of rice, wheat, kerosene, levy sugar, etc., meant for poor beneficiaries is the order of the day, thanks to bureaucrats and politicians cohorting in criminal tandem with stockists, power of attorney holders and nominees.
Whereas 32 states and union territories have implemented the FSA, Nagaland and Manipur are the only states which have not done so. The urgency for FSA in the state is highlighted by the fact that none of the State stockists for PDS items has been appointed through tendering process (Notice inviting Tender- NIT), clearly highlighting the illegality and arbitrariness in the PDS. To complete this picture of decadence, almost all the stockists have handed the power of attorney to non-local businessmen. This power of attorney farce is the cog in the wheel of the whole corruption system in the PDS.
For instance, in wheat, one T. Sema was appointed the state stockist for 13 consecutive years between 2002 and 2015. The same T. Sema appointed G. Sarkar and B. Jain as power of attorneys. Not surprisingly, no wheat reached the districts. In 2015-16, Khrietuo Angami was made the stockist with M. Thapa and B. Yadav as power of attorney holders.
Between 2001 and 2016, only a few individuals, namely, Jemti Ao, M. Angami, Ato Natso, Ruokuo Angami, Lobacca Zhimo, R. Zhimomi, were made stockists for AAY rice with D. Chakravarty, W. Bendang, B. Yadav, B. Jain, and G. Sarkar as power of attorney holders. Again, between the years 2001 and 2016, Jemti Ao, Neitilie kuotsu, Tali Ao, V. Angami, A. Samuel Ayemi, Mezhu, Isaac Solo, Bendang Ao, N. Konyak, Lese Angami, M. Angami, Ato Natso, IK Angami, Vizhekho Angami, Khrielie Angami, Kuthu Newmai were made the state stockists for APL rice with W. Bendang, S. Singh, Naresh Adhikari, Kamal Dey, M. Thapa, S. Thapa, P. Chand, Arun, and Janglal Yadav as power of attorney holders.
Not surprisingly, in levy sugar, there was no tendering process in the last 15 years except in the year 2014-15. Against such daylight robbery taking place in the PDS, the misappropriation of Rs. 402 crores by the Food & Civil Supplies Department as reflected in CAG report is just the tip of the iceberg. Such blatant corruption is condemnable when the majority of the citizens rely on PDS items for sustenance. ACAUT Nagaland will continue to pursue this matter in the interest of the thousands of hand-to-mouth Nagas who depend on subsidized dole-outs.
Therefore, considering the fact that the F&CS department is one of the most corrupted departments in the state, it is the opinion of the ACAUT Nagaland that the only fool-proof model would be to introduce the Direct beneficiary Transfer (DBP) system, as already implemented in Puducherry and Chandigarh where benefit or subsidy money is directly transferred to the beneficiary account. With this money, the beneficiary should be able to buy the food items.
While interacting with the ACAUT members, the F&CS official divulged that the system to implement FSA is already in place, only requiring cabinet nod to start the process. Therefore, there is no valid reason for the government to delay the implementation of the FSA unless it wants to continue with the old PDS for obvious reasons.
Media Cell, ACAUT Nagaland.