Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 7:
In keeping with its commitment to make Odisha agriculturally prosperous with adequate food security coverage for all, the state government is going to introduce a holistic Food Security Act very soon with an emphasis on agricultural production, marketing and equitable distribution of food grains, said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here today.
Addressing the Agriculture and Food Security session on the concluding day of the two-day conference of the district collectors at the State Secretariat here, Patnaik said efforts will be made to raise productivity by creating additional irrigation potential to the tune of ten lakh hectares within the next five years.
“To achieve this objective, Rs 5000 crore will be spent each year on major, medium and small irrigation projects, deep bore wells, mega lift irrigation projects and restoration of the defunct lift irrigation points. Besides, efforts would be made for easy access to quality seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and farm mechanisation along with agricultural credit with the lowest percentage of interest”, the Chief Minister said.
To support agricultural marketing, the government will create a network of storage facilities, including cold storage chains, threshing floors, drying yards and mandis with sound connectivity with marketing avenues and access to a SMS based information flow, he added.
The new Act would also ensure equitable distribution of food grains to all with focus on the tribals, slum dwellers and other vulnerable sections of the society. Indicators reflecting the socio economic conditions of a family would also be introduced to make the coverage inclusive and holistic.
To stop pilferage and ensure complete transparency in the distribution of entitlements to deserving families, digitization of ration cards will be undertaken, Patnaik said.
The Act will cover about 3.26 crore people with distribution of nearly 72 lakh ration cards to the surveyed families. Keeping this gigantic exercise in view, the collectors will have to play a very proactive role to ensure its proper implementation, he noted.
The Chief Minister urged the collectors to act as agents of change to revamp the whole public distribution system (PDS) to ensure that no compromise is made in the quality of food grains under the PDS and there is no delay in its distribution to the beneficiaries.
“The collectors should personally undertake surprise checks frequently and take steps to prevent black marketing of kerosene. At present, the performance of collectors in invoking the provisions of Black Marketing Act is not up to the mark. Henceforth, hoarders and black marketers are to be dealt with very strongly. Private retailers should be completely replaced with institution based PDS in a time bound manner”, he said.
Stating that Rs 400 crores is lying unspent with the Regulated Marketing Committees (RMCs), Patnaik said the state government has substantially enhanced the limits of administrative approval of collectors and sub collectors pertaining to the execution of development works in the RMCs.
The collectors must take advantage of it and utilise the entire unspent amount in improving agricultural marketing infrastructure of the RMCs within the next six months, he said.
The Chief Minister also asked the collectors to involve Self Help Groups (SHGs) and other community based organisations in PDS monitoring at the grassroots level.
Apart from this, the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare department should come up with a SMS based Complaint Monitoring System (CMS) to redress all PDS related grievances.
Both these systems should be put in place within a period of two months, he said.