The state government Friday constituted a nine-member sub-committee to chalk out a plan to implement the Food Security Act in Maharashtra. The committee will be headed by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
As per the Centres directive,the Food Security Act will have to be enforced in states within a year. Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Anil Deshmukh said: We have taken a decision to implement the scheme from December 2013.
But the bigger challenge for the sub-committee is to formalise the list of beneficiaries as per the guidelines recommended by the Centre. Of the total beneficiaries,The government will have to select 76.32 per cent of the total beneficiaries from rural areas and 45.34 per cent from urban areas.
The Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies has received recommendation from urban MLAs and MPs not to downsize the beneficiaries currently availing subsidies under various food schemes already existing in Maharashtra.
A senior Cabinet minister admitted: Its a mammoth task to implement the Act within two months. We have not even set aside the budget to meet the transportation cost of lifting the food grains allocated by the Centre.
The Ministry of Finance finds itself in a dilemma as it will have to divert funds from other sectors if forced to enforce the Act. Officials said the state government was mounting pressure on the Centre to provide some concessions on the transport cost to enable the state to cope with the additional budget while implementing the Food Security Act.
In Maharashtra,Deshmukh says: The amalgamation of the existing food schemes under various departments along with the Centres scheme remains an exercise that needs to be completed in the next two months. At the same time,the government will also have to ensure that there is no discrimination while executing the schemes as it would invite public wrath,which it cannot afford ahead of the 2014 elections.
Of the 11.23 crore people in the state,7.17 crore will benefit from the Act. Of this,4.7 crore (76.32 per cent) people will be from rural areas and 2.3 crore (45.34 per cent) people will be from urban areas.