Millennium Post

‘Every state must implement Food Security Act’

What are your plans regarding food subsidy?
Currently we do not intend to make any changes in food subsidy. We want every single state government in the country to implement the Food Security Act successfully. The effects of which will be visible in both rural and urban areas. Most states have said they will implement it by June. We will assess the situation after that.

Do you have plans to revamp the Food Corporation of India (FCI), especially with regards the issue of food wastage?

There isn’t much wastage, as is being purported. In fact lot of this menace has been controlled now. It is in fact minimal. A High Level Committee report has said that the use of silos should be maximised. What really happens is that after food grain is taken from the farm, not much of it is sifted. When it leaves the FCI go-down, it goes to fair price shop where sifting is done. The committee has given its report on this issue and we are looking into it. With the complete implementation of the report, we will see door-to-door delivery, end-to-end computerisation of the entire process, depot work and beneficiaries would be made online and many such recommendations of the Committee.

Your cabinet colleague Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Minister of Food Processing Industries said that India wastes as much food as the UK consumes. What are your views on this statement?
This is not true. Even if food wastage is taking place then it is actually happening in states. Our work at the Centre is that we procure and buy foodgrain and then look into where it will be stored. In the public distribution system (PDS) we distribute the stock but the main issues is about storage. We only take an amount, which is required as per PDS and not more, since the rest would go waste.

Tell us about Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) developing standards for ‘solid waste management’?

For this we are working towards bringing amendments in the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act. Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) primarily works for the welfare of the consumer. As per their recommendations we plan to bring about changes soon. The BIS Act is being amended comprehensively for the first ever after it being enacted in the year 1986. These amendments will empower the government to bring more products under mandatory certification. While simplifying the procedure for grant of new licences, the amendments provide for harsher penalties. Misuse of ISI mark is being made a cognizable offence. For the first time, provision is being made to make distributor and retailer liable for conformity to quality standards. Product liability and power to recall products and provision of compensation to consumers is also proposed. Also BIS is actively engaged in the “Make in India” campaign by formulating/updating standards in the identified sectors. In consultation with the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), 46 products have already been identified for this purpose. BIS is also preparing for an aggressive media plan for promotion of its brand.

How do you see the future of the Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar?

There is no future for the current Bihar government. It will collapse in the next six months. It is a good thing they formed the government, otherwise he (Nitish Kumar) would have continued to throw tantrums. Now the Finance Commission report is out and Bihar too will get more money. So let us see what he does. People too will know the truth about him.

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