Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today rolled out the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme (MMSFES) to supplement the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and ensure adequate food safety under targeted public distribution system.
The unique food security scheme devised to supplement the requirement of additional food-grains of the people, christened as MMSFES, in tune with the vision of the former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, was rolled out by Ms Mehbooba at a modest but impressive function at SKICC here.
Council of Ministers, Legislators, officers and a large number of people were present on the occasion.
The scheme was simultaneously rolled out in Jammu by the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh in presence of Speaker Legislative Assembly, Kavinder Gupta.
Pertinently, the decision to roll out MMSFES to supplement NFSA was taken by the State Cabinet headed by Ms Mehbooba in its very first meeting on 11 April 2016.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the new scheme launched to supplement NFSA would guarantee food to the people, especially the underprivileged sections of the society, through a proper public distribution system. "The scheme will effectively address the food needs of the people. It was a challenging task but we did it and now the onus lies on the government functionaries for effective and rightful implementation of the scheme," she said and expressed the hope that the scheme would do well as it has been launched on an auspicious day in the holy month of Ramadhan.
She said under MMSFES all those families with family size of 1 to 6 souls falling under Priority Households (PHH) and Non-Priority Households (NPHH) will get additional food-grains, over and above NFSA entitlement, at the uniform scale of 5 kgs per soul per ration card except for AAY families who are otherwise entitled to receive 35 kgs ration per family irrespective of the family size. "8585693 souls comprising 2172585 families will be covered with assured food-grains under MMSFES,," she said and added that under NFSA, the Government is already providing highly subsidized rations 119.13 lakh souls against 99 lakh souls in old Public Distribution System (PDS).
Mehbooba said with the launch of MMSFES the Government has incorporated every section of the society and the people under food security. She urged the women to take full benefit of NFSA which entitles every pregnant woman and lactating mother to meal free of cost during pregnancy and six months after childbirth.
Stressing the need for providing quality food-grains to the people, the Chief Minister asked the CA&PD Minister to ensure that no compromise is made in the quality of food grains under the public distribution system. "The CA&PD Department should put in place an effective monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism in the Department to redress all PDS related grievances in a time bound manner," she said and added that the Deputy Commissioners should also put in place an effective monitoring mechanism at the district level and conduct surprise checks to ensure that no compromise is made in the PDS.
The Chief Minister said multifaceted efforts are being made by the Government to raise productivity in agriculture sector to increase food-grain production within the State. She exhorted the agriculture scientists to identify relevant initiatives for significantly improving both production and productivity and suggested sharper focus on soil, water and pesticide management to increase food grain productivity. "Agriculturists need to be convinced and motivated to adopt well tested technologies with adequate safeguards to boost agriculture productivity for which the State hugely depends on imports for meeting domestic demands," she said.
The Chief Minister suggested adoption of area-specific interventions for increasing production and productivity in agriculture sector and evolving approaches which are suitable for the varied geo-climatic conditions through continuing research and extension interventions. She stressed the need for proactive role by agriculture scientists in taking new technologies and researches to the farmers and the fields.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for CA&PD, Choudhary Zulfkar said NFSA was implemented in the State from February 2016 while the green signal for its implementation in the State was given by the then government headed by NC in 2011. He said as per the provisions of the Act an even distribution system is maintained and the scale of 5 kg is prescribed per soul per month at the nominal rate of Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 3 per kg for rice. He dwelt in detail on the various facets of the food security programme which he said will benefit the poorest of the poor.
He said the previous public distribution system was mostly uneven and no proper scale was maintained throughout the state. He said with the implementation of MMSFES there will be extra burden of Rs 358 crore on the state exchequer per annum. "The food grains shall be procured from Food Corporation of India (FCI) and all the trucks will be fitted with GPRS tracking system to monitor their movement on real time basis," the Minister said and added that rate lists would be displayed at all the sale outlets and Fair Price Shops to ensure maximum transparency.
The Minister said J&K is the first state in the country that has launched its own scheme to supplement NFSA.
The Minister said that new Fair Price Shops would be opened in un-serviced areas to ensure immaculate distribution of rations in every nook and corner of the State.
Appreciating the CA&PD employees, the Minister said that people should appreciate the relentless work done by CA&PDD. He said CA&PD employees have delivered in tough situations like devastating floods of September 2014.
Highlighting the achievements of CA&PD department, the Minister said that the department distributed ration cards after 15 years, and so far eight lakh cards have been distributed among beneficiaries.
Giving details about transparency, Mr Zulfkar said the department has put all its go-downs under surveillance. Besides, the department is installing Global Positioning Tracking system on their vehicles to monitor their movement.
The Minister said that it is imperative for people to know their rights so that they could avail benefits provided by the Government.
The Chief Minister formally launched the scheme by handing-over rations under the new food security regime to the residents of Dhobi Mohalla, Shalimar.
The Chief Minister, on this occasion, also flagged off a fleet of trucks with food-grains to different parts of Kashmir for public distribution system.