National Food Security Act

National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013

Download Act

The basic concept of food security globally is to ensure that all people, at all times, should get access to the basic food for their active and healthy life and is characterized by availability, access, utilization and stability of food. Though the Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food, the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.

Though the issue of 'food security' at the household is continuously being addressed by the Government since long, through the Public Distribution System and the Targeted Public Distribution System, the enactment of the National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013 on July 5, 2013 marks a paradigm shift in the approach to food security from welfare to rights based approach. The Act legally entitles upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System. About two thirds of the population therefore is covered under the Act to receive highly subsidized foodgrains. As a step towards women empowerment, the eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above is mandated to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards under the Act.

The Act is being implemented in all the States/UTs, and on an all India basis, out of maximum coverage of 81.34 crore persons, around 80 crore persons have been covered under NFSA at present for receiving highly subsidized foodgrains. The identification of beneficiaries by States/UTs is a continuous process, which involves exclusion of ineligible/fake/duplicate ration cards and also exclusion on account of death, migration etc. and inclusion on account of birth as also that of genuine left-out households.

One of the guiding principles of the Act is its life-cycle approach wherein special provisions have been made for pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years, by entitling them to receive nutritious meal free of cost through a widespread network of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres, called Anganwadi Centres under ICDS scheme and also through schools under Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme. Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children upto 6 years of age. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are further entitled to receive cash maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000 to partly compensate for the wage loss during the period of pregnancy and also to supplement nutrition.

In case of non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons under NFSA, such persons shall be entitled to receive such food security allowance from the concerned State Government to be paid to each person, within such time and manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government. These provisions are governed through the Food Security Allowance Rules, 2015.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER NFSA

NFSA defines the joint responsibility of the Centre and State/UT Government. While the Centre is responsible for allocation of required foodgrains to States/UTs, transportation of foodgrains up to designated depots in each State/UT and providing central assistance to States/UTs for delivery of foodgrains from designated FCI godowns to the doorstep of the FPSs, the States/UTs are responsible for effective implementation of the Act, which inter-alia includes identification of eligible households, issuing ration cards to them, distribution of foodgrain entitlements to eligible households through fair price shops (FPS), issuance of licenses to Fair Price Shop dealers and their monitoring, setting up effective grievance redressal mechanism and necessary strengthening of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

 

COVERAGE AND ENTITLEMENT UNDER NFSA

NFSA covers upto 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population under under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority households. While AAY households, which constitute poorest of the poor are entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per family per month, priority households are entitled to 5 kg per person per month. Corresponding to the all India coverage of 75% and 50% in the rural and urban areas, State-wise coverage under NFSA was determined by the erstwhile Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) by using the NSS Household Consumption Survey data for 2011-12. Within the coverage under TPDS determined for each State, the work of identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs. It is the responsibility of the State Governments/UTs, to evolve criteria for identification of priority households and their actual identification. Section 10 of the Act provides that within the number of persons determined for coverage under TPDS, the State Government shall identify the households under AAY as per guidelines applicable to the said scheme and the remaining households as priority households to be covered under TPDS, in accordance with such guidelines as the State Government may specify.

CENTRAL ISSUE PRICE UNDER NFSA

Foodgrains under NFSA were to be made available at subsidized prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains respectively for an initial period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act (July 13, 2013). Thereafter, prices were to be fixed by the Central Government from time to time, but not exceeding MSP. Government has decided from time to time to continue the above mentioned subsidized prices under NFSA and their validity has last been extended upto June, 2019.

TIDE OVER ALLOCATION

The Act provides that in case any State/UT’s allocation under NFSA is lower than their current allocation, it will be protected upto the level of average offtake under erstwhile normal TPDS during 2010-11 to 2012-13, at prices to be determined by the Central Government. Prices for APL households under erstwhile TPDS i.e. Rs. 6.10 per kg for wheat and Rs 8.30 per kg for rice has been determined as issue price for the additional allocation under Tide Over.

 

DIRECT BENEFIT TRANSFER (DBT)

National Food Security Act (2013) provides for reforms in the TPDS including schemes such as Cash transfers for provisioning of food entitlements. In pursuance of enabling provisions under section 12 of NFSA for cash transfer, Govt. notified ‘Cash Transfer of Food Subsidy Rule, 2015’ in Aug 2015. The DBT experiment aims to (i) reduce the need for huge physical movement of foodgrains (ii) provide greater autonomy to beneficiaries to choose their consumption basket (iii) enhance dietary diversity (iv) reduce leakages (v) facilitate better targeting (vi) promote financial inclusion

Direct Cash Transfer in food was started in UTs of Chandigarh and Puducherry from the month of September, 2015 and part of Dadra & Nagar Haveli from March, 2016. In these UTs, NFSA is being implemented in cash transfer mode under which cash equivalent of subsidy is being transferred directly into the Bank accounts of eligible households to enable them to purchase foodgrains from open market. The Scheme is optional for States/UTs and operates in "Identified areas” in a State or Union territory or any specified area within the State or Union territory for which there is a written consent of the State Government for implementation of the Scheme. Prevailing system of distribution of food grains through Public Distribution System may continue in the remaining areas not covered under the Scheme.

 

POWER OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT TO MAKE RULES

Under Section 39(1) of NFSA, the Central Government may, in consultation with the State Governments and by notification, make rules to carry out the provisions of the Act. The following Rules have been notified by the Central Government:

i. Provisioning of Funds to State Governments for Short Supply of Foodgrains Rules, 2014.

ii. Food Security Allowance Rules, 2015.

iii. Food security (assistance to State Government Rules) 2015

iv. Cash Transfer of Food Subsidy Rules, 2015

v. Notification of WCD and HRD

Section 40 of the National Food Security Act provides that the State Governments may, by notification and consistent with the Act and the rules made by the Central Government, make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.


Designed and Developed by
National Informatics Centre
Government of India

Version: 2.2

Last reviewed and updated on 12 Apr, 2018