Ramakanta Biswas

The Centre has asked all the states and union territories to issue print receipts to beneficiaries availing free foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), triggering a political row in Odisha. 

All NFSA beneficiaries will be provided with foodgrains free of cost for one year, with effective from January 1, 2023.

As per the direction of the Centre, the print receipt will prominently indicate that the free foodgrain is distributed and the subsidy is borne by the union government.

“As you are aware that under NFSA, subsidized food grains are being distributed at Rs 3 per kg for rice. Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Its I per kg coarse grains to NFSA beneficiaries. The Central government has now decided to provide free of cost foodgrains to all NFSA beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for one year, with effective from January 1, 2023,” the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said. 

The Ministry has asked all the States/UTs to immediately issue instructions to the MC team/technical team to incorporate certain changes in IT systems and ePoS application to ensure free-of-cost foodgrains distribution to NFSA beneficiaries from January 1 to December 31, 2023.

“Exclusive print receipt to be printed for NFSA distribution and separate receipt to be printed for State schemes, if any. or any additional quantity if issued by the State/UT,” the Ministry said.

“Print receipt of NFSA to prominently indicate free foodgrain distribution and subsidy borne by the Government of India,” the Ministry added.

It said the format of print receipts for foodgrain distribution under NFSA will be shared shortly.

The States have also been asked to make separate biometric authentications for distribution under NFSA and under State/UT schemes if any, or any additional quantity if issued by the State/UT. 

“Further, it is also requested to sensitize the FPS dealers and field officers with regards to the above decision of the Central Government. Extensive awareness generation amongst the beneficiaries may also be carried out so that all NFSA beneficiaries become aware to get free foodgrains from Fair Price Shop under NFSA,” the Ministry added. 

Speaking about the Centre’s decision, BJP MLA Prakash Sorens said, “The Odisha government now cannot hijack the central schemes and rebrand it as its own. The Centre has mandated that State government must issue print receipts to beneficiaries.”

Reacting to the statement of the BJP MLA, BJD legislator Amar Satpathy said, “The Centre takes certain decision, but the State government has a say in that which is being suppressed now. I think this move will lead to a chaotic situation and PDS beneficiaries will bear the brunt.”

Satpathy added that the State government has not hijacked any central scheme.