ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Battle Far From Won

Food insecurities remain even as more states begin implementing NFSA.

A survey of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in June found that even as coverage of the public distribution system (PDS) has increased since the implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013, serious food insecurities remain. Names continue to be missing in ration cards in these states, including in Chhattisgarh, considered a better-off state that began reforming its PDS even before the NFSA was implemented. Bihar and Jharkhand fared the worst in the survey with high exclusion of those in need as well as gaps in supply of foodgrain. West Bengal, which began implementing the NFSA only in December 2015, has complicated PDS entitlements with many special packages, which make it all the more difficult for the poor to access them. Odisha has had massive cuts in Antyodaya Anna Yojana cards, which affect the poorest of the poor the most. The quality of wheat in Madhya Pradesh, and of wheat flour in West Bengal were found to be poor.

Across states, the aged, especially widows, remain vulnerable and tend to be excluded from coverage under the NFSA. Systems to add new members of households to ration cards are also slow and fraught with difficulty. Further, even local administrators remain confused about the significance of Aadhaar cards for availing entitlements.

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