Nearly a year after the previous Omar Abdullah government refused to implement Congress’s flagship National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the state, the Mufti Sayeed-led PDP-BJP ruling coalition has decided to enforce it in Jammu and Kashmir.
“We have decided to switch over to NFSA within six months,’’ said Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Chowdhary Zulfikar Ali here Friday. It is being considered by a committee headed by Principal Secretary, Planning and Development, B R Sharma, the minister said, adding that “it will be implemented in the state within six months.’’
National Food Security Act was one of flagship programmes of the UPA-II introduced in 2013. However, the then Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was heading the National Conference-Congress coalition government in the state, refused to implement it on the ground that it was not beneficial to the people of the state.
Omar’s stand had strained the relations between National Conference and Congress, with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi hitting out at the former during 2014 Assembly polls for not implementing the latter’s policies and programmes.
The disclosure to implement the NFSA in the state came during Zulfikar’s announcement to provide subsidised ration to all 1.36 crore people of the state from September 1 onwards. Till now, the government was providing ration to only 99.47 lakh people as per the projected population of the state during the 2000 census, he pointed out.
The 1.36 crore population figure is as per the survey conducted by all deputy commissioners in their respective districts in April and is 11 lakh higher than the last census in 2011, which projects the population at 1.25 crore. As the Centre provides ration to the state on the basis of its population figure projected in 2000 census, the government’s decision to provide subsidised ration to 1.36 crore people will raise the procurement cost from Rs 474 crore to Rs 701.82 crore.