With 25 states and UTs yet to roll out the food security law, the Centre today gave three more months to them for implementing the landmark Act that will push up the food subsidy bill to Rs 1.31 lakh crore.
"The food security law came into force on July 5, 2013. As per the law, state governments were to implement the law within 365 days (by July 4, 2014). Twenty states and five union territories have not implemented the food law so far. So we have decided to extend the deadline by 3 months," Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters here.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Only 5 states have so far fully implemented the food law and another 6 have rolled out it partially, he added.
The Centre would continue to provide foodgrains allocated to these states, he said, adding that there was no need to amend the food law or issue ordinance to extend the deadline. An executive order will be issued.
In September last year, Parliament passed the Food Security Act that gave legal entitlement to highly subsidised foodgrains to two-thirds of the country's population. The ordinance was, however, issued in July 2013.
Each eligible person would get 5 kg of of rice and wheat at Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg respectively. The existing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, poorest of the poor, will continue to receive 35 kg of foodgrains per family a month.
Describing it as an important law for the benefits of poor, Paswan said he has written to the chief ministers of these 25 states/UTs to implement the Act.
"We do not want any confrontation between the Centre and states on the Food Security Act," he said while asking states if they do not want to implement the law or want any changes.
The implementation of the law would increase the Centre's food subsidy bill by Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 1.31 lakh crore while the grains requirement would rise by 6-8 million tonnes from the current 55 million tonnes annually, he said.
Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, have fully implemented the Act; while Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have done it partially, Paswan said.