Stating that the state government won’t let people starve, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD), Zulfikar Ali Sunday said that any law can be amended even if it is a Government of India’s legislation. “The state government can amend any law in whether it is of Central government or state’s own law. Under section 25, the state administration can amend any law in the state,” Zulfkar told reporters here in a press conference. The Minister was referring to the statement of National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, who has said that PDP-BJP Government cannot make any amendments in the law since the National Food Security Act was directly implemented by the government without bringing the food bill for discussion in the Assembly. Zulfkar, who was accompanied by Director CAPD, Abdul Rashid War said that the government will do whatever is required to address the ration quota issue. Speaking over the recent protests held in Srinagar over implementation of NFSA in the state, Zulfiqar said people have been misinformed that it is government’s conspiracy behind the implementation of the act, “but the fact is that there is no such conspiracy behind it. And playing politics over providing ration was not good.” “The state government won’t leave anyone hungry. There would be no shortfall of the ration supplied from the Government of India to the state government for the people here,” he said, adding that the amendment in the law would be made, if needed. He further said that there is a negative awareness among the people after the NFSA was implemented in JK, which is baseless as the act is supposed to provide benefits to the people by getting highly subsidized ration. “There won’t be any reduction in the ration quota, which we are getting from the central government. We will continue to get 7.51 lakh metric tons of ration from GoI,” he said. He also said that if the department fails to provide ration to anyone, the person will be compensated. “We will pay compensation to the people whom the department will fail to provide ration,” he said. While giving information about the people who are supposed to get benefits from NFSA, the Minister said that 119.13 lakh people would be covered in the state under NFSA. “Out of the total population, 74.13 lakh people will get highly subsidized rations at the rate of Rs 2 per kg (atta) and Rs 3 per kg (rice), while 45 lakh persons will get rations at the rate of Rs 8 (atta) and Rs 10 per kg (rice). Five kg ration per head will be provided to the people living in these categories,” he informed. “There is not any change in the ration quota to 13.77 lakh people living in the category of AAY as they will continue to get 35 kg ration per month,” he said. He further said that almost six lakh people, comprising persons with income of more than Rs 25 lakh per annum, persons holding constitutional positions including ministers and legislators, employees of the state and the central governments in the Gazetted cadre and a person owning more than 80 kanals of land individually or 250 kanals of land in joint family shall be kept out of NFSA. “Food gains for such families would be made available on OMSS (Open Market Sale Scheme) rates,” he said. He further informed that under the food law, every pregnant woman and lactating mother would be provided free ration and despite the ration, Rs 6000 allowance will be given to her for taking other supplementary diet. Zulfiqar said the department has so far enrolled about 22 lakh families in the state under the Act. “In Jammu region, 12,58,929 forms have been distributed, while 10,41,465 forms have been submitted back. In Kashmir, 13,07,081 forms have been distributed, while as 11,52,707 forms have been submitted back,” Zulfkar said. Ali further stated that the department is currently gathering data of the population on the basis of which a policy will be made and a reasonable ration scale would be maintained in the state keeping in view the circumstances here. He admitted that there is no streamline distribution of ration in several place of the state, Zulfkar said, “I have tried my level best to streamline the lapses but the same continues to happen here. We are on the way to end such things and will hopefully streamline the same at earliest,” he said. Zulfkar blamed National Conference (NC) for implementing the act in Jammu and Kashmir. “The progress of the act took place during the NC government in the state. It was progressed in 2011,” he said.
2015 Kashmir Despatch