State to implement MMSFES from July: Zulfkar

Minister for CAPD Ch Zulfkar addressing a press conference at Srinagar on Friday. -Excelsior/Photo
Minister for CAPD Ch Zulfkar addressing a press conference at Srinagar on Friday. -Excelsior/Photo

Adil Lateef
SRINAGAR, May 6: Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) Chowdhary Zulfikar Ali today said the Government will implement Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme (MMSFES) from July this year to enhance the ration scale alongside National Food Security Act and announced that State would have its own food testing laboratory in near future.
Addressing a press conference here, the Minister said that people of the State in general and Valley in particular had expressed apprehensions regarding the implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA). “However, the then Chief Minister and I also had said that the NFSA is not the word of the God that we couldn’t change or amend it,” he added.
The Minister said that the Government is starting new food entitlement scheme in the State which would be named after Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme. “Since it was his (Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s) vision so we named it after him,” the Minister said, adding that the Chief Minister Mehbooba had also passed directions to him regarding the implementation of the scheme.
“Under this scheme, we are going to provide additional five kilogram rice per person. The entitlement under NFSA would remain unchanged,” he said, adding that that a family of two, three, four, five and six persons would get additional 10, 15, 15, 10 and 5 kilograms of rice respectively. The Minister however said that MMSFES would create a burden of additional Rs. 400 crore on the State and the State has to bear it. Under MMSFES, the consumers will get wheat at Rs 12, Atta at Rs 13 and Rice at Rs 15.
He said there was a negative perception among people with regard to the distribution of the food grains. “It could be true at many places and I won’t disagree with this. But we will streamline this system of distribution to a larger extent,” the Minister said.
“We have already put up 98 percent individual soul wise data on national portal and we completed this exercise in around two and a half months. The other States of India had to work for over two years to collect and digitize the data,” Zulfikar said. He said the Department would move a step ahead by installing Point of Sale (POS) machine at every ration store and Fair Price Shop which would enable a consumer to check his ration detail, how much he has taken and how much is the balance.
The Minister said that the food carrying vehicles would be fitted with GPS trackers to avoid food pilferage. “For computerization, we will have end-to-end food chain management and every store of ours would be connected with chain management. The process of camera installations in stores would be re-started and then we will connect it with the server,” he said.
He said there would be no comprise on food quality and it has been decided that the distribution of food grains be ensured before 15th of every month.
He said to address the complaints of the people the Department has established district-level Grievance Mechanism cells and the Deputy Commissioner have been nominated as District Grievance and Redressel Officers (DGRO).  “We have passed directions to the DCs that every complainant should be given a hearing and not to be disposed of without any hearing,” the Minister said.
He said the State would get 12 lakh metric tones of ration onwards and State Food Commission would be established for consumers if their complaints are not addressed by the DCs.  He said CAPD Department would keep a check on market rates and consumers’ rights.
The CAPD Minister said that there is no food testing Laboratory in the State for checking the quality of the grains but added that it would come up in near future as he is taking up the matter with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The Minister admitted that there is shortage of the sugar in the State and cited non-finalisation of tenders due to higher rates as reason.


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