Center’s inadequate allocation and state justification on beneficiaries jeopardizes Kerala’s food security

Government of Kerala implemented the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the state in 2016. The provisions of the act empowered ration recipients and now they have more say in the settlement mechanism grievances. Yet, many political issues undermine Kerala’s food security.

One of the main problems is the disproportionate allocation of food grains by the Union government. The state fought for the allocation of food grains to be proportional to state beneficiaries. However, the union government cites the improved living standards of Kerala to reject the claim.

With the implementation of the NFSA, the number of ration card holders increased to 92.43 lakhs. The improved quality of ration items was also reflected in takers. It went from 40% to 80%. Prior to the implementation of the law, the union government’s food grain allocation was 16.04 tons. But now it’s only 14.25 tons. Likewise, the price of some ration items has been increased and since 2018 the Union government has not provided special allocations for orphanages, nursing homes and welfare centres.

As far as the state is concerned, the government’s rationale in classifying households as Priority Household (PHH) families (yellow and pink ration card holders) is also problematic. One of the criteria is that the cardholder’s home must be less than 1,000 square feet. The State Food Commission, in its review, found that this criterion is not a correct way to identify PHH families. The Commission pointed out that the size of the house and the land should not be taken into account, but rather that its value should be assessed according to the region. However, the state government ignored the Commission’s recommendations.

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