Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao has amended the National Food Security Act, 2013 in its application to the Scheduled Areas of the state to improve the nutrition status of children below six years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
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In a notification issued by the Governor, the word ‘Take Home Ration’ used in the National Food Security Act (Schedule II) has been replaced by the words ‘Hot Cooked Meal’.
The notification issued using powers under Schedule V of the Constitution has been published on November 5.
With a view to improving the nutritional status of children below six years of age and pregnant and lactating women in the Scheduled Areas, the Governor had asked the Maharashtra government to formulate schemes for provisioning eggs and hot cooked meals to these groups of persons.
The government had accordingly initiated the APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Ahar Yojana – Streams 1 and 2, respectively, for pregnant and lactating women; and for children in the age group of 7 months to 6 years.
Rao had further felt that the above schemes may be converted into rights-based entitlements to the above said beneficiary groups so that there shall be continuity and effectiveness in the implementation of these schemes which aim at improving the nutritional status of the beneficiaries.
According to the notification, the word ‘meal’ shall be replaced by ‘Hot cooked meal, including eggs’ in section 4 and clause (a) of the National Food Security Act, 2013.
It further says that the State Government shall make adequate financial provisions to meet the additional expenditure to be incurred in scheduled areas while providing hot cooked meal to lactating and pregnant women.
The notification adds a provison that eggs shall be provided to children aged above 7 months and up to 6 years, as an additional item in Anganwadis in the Scheduled Areas of Maharashtra, at least four times a week. It further mandates that suitable alternatives may be provided to children who may not prefer eggs.