Resolution adopted at the Central Committee Meeting held on January 06-08, 2017 at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
The Central Committee meeting of CPI(M) being held in Thiruvananthapuram demands the government of India to take immediate steps to increase the foodgrain quota for the state of Kerala.
The state of Kerala through long decades of struggle came to have statutory and universal rationing. It was the best performing PDS systems in the country with ration shops within walking distance of every family. The UPA government enacted National Food Security Act (NFSA) with a view of ensuring food security for the people all over the nation. It was presumed that 75 per cent of the rural people, 50 per cent of the urban population will be covered as the Priority Category under NFSA. However mechanically applying the criteria for identifying priority category, only 46 per cent of the population was included in the Priority Category in Kerala. This has undermined the functioning of PDS system in the state.
As per NFSA norms, the allotment of foodgrains to the state was limited to 14.25 MT, where as it was 16.2 MT in 2013-14 and 15.9 MT in 2014-16. The decrease in central foodgrain allocation has badly affected the rationing system in the state and smooth supply of foodgrains to the public. The fact that Kerala is a chronically foodgrain deficient state with domestic production contributing to around 15 per cent of the grain requirement was ignored and NFSA norms were applied for fixing the central allocation of foodgrains to the state.
An important point to note is that Kerala has around 35 lakh migrant workers from other parts of the country and as per NFSA, they are also entitled for the mandatory foodgrain allocation as a right. This aspect has not at all been considered while the central allocation was firmed up. This has serious social implications in the medium term.
It is true that consultations were done with state government while formulating the act. However, the then UDF government in office in Kerala has not presented the situation prevailing in Kerala effectively before the Central government. Moreover, the initial steps for implementing the Act were not taken in earnest resulting in the state not being able to meet the deadline in NFSA implementation. Further, ration card holders survey undertaken by the UDF government seems to have many irregularities resulting in large number of complaints as to inclusion in the priority categories. Now the present government has taken all possible steps to effectively implement the Act and identify the priority category scientifically.
Considering the fact that Kerala is a foodgrain deficient state with special socio-economic conditions and the large number of migrant workers, it is imperative to increase the central allocation to the state and also increase the eligible population under priority category to realistic levels.