NHRC holds two-day conference on Right to Food
GN Bureau | April 28, 2016
There is no dearth of government policies and programmes to ensuring food for all; questions can be raised only about their effective implementation, says National Human Rights Commission chairperson justice HL Dattu.
Inaugurating a two-day national conference on Right to Food organised by the commission in New Delhi from Thursday, he appreciated the improvement in food grains production, and said the stocking and distribution among the needy continues to remain a concern.
He said the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) is a comprehensive document ensuring food security, primarily for the poor in normal circumstances but natural calamities like drought affect all, irrespective of their economic and social status. It needs to be discussed as to what extent the efforts to check the leakages in the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) have been effective as well as the impact of efforts like direct benefit transfer. Problems of malnourishment, particularly, among women and children and falling levels of calorie consumption need to be reviewed in view of the impact of the measures taken up to address them.
The NHRC chairperson said that the ultimate goal of the NFSA, integrated with various social welfare schemes, should be that nobody sleeps without food or falls prey to begging for it. And it is not only for the governments but for all the sections of society to work towards ensuring that programmes and schemes towards ensuring food for all are implemented in right earnest. People should be watchdogs of the welfare schemes instead of falling prey to the allurements of pilferage.
Justice Dattu said that while looking into the big issue of shortage of storage facilities, the issue of distantly located fair price shops cannot be ignored. The nation is already battling the issue of paucity of nearby markets for the farmers to sell their produce, lack of quality roads and transport to shift their produce to distant mandis and storage facilities to save the produce from rotting.
He said that it pains us all to know that food grains worth Rs 92,000 crore goes waste every year. If every section of the NFSA is implemented sincerely, he said, there is no reason why a food sufficient country like India cannot ensure the same for all its people.
Vrinda Swaroop, secretary, department of food and public distribution, expressed happiness over the proactive action taken by the states and union territories for implementing the NFSA. As several parts of the country are facing drought, she said the government had sufficient stock of food grains to supply them to natural calamity-hit states over and above their requirements under NFSA.
NHRC secretary general SN Mohanty said that the commission has maintained that Right to Food is intrinsic to living a life with dignity and it is committed to suggesting measures to the government on food security for all.
The two-day discussions, divided into four thematic sessions, have participation from the NHRC members and senior officers, senior officers from the union ministries, states and union territories dealing with the subject, members of NHRC’s core advisory group on Right to Food, representatives of other national and state commissions, technical institutions, international organizations, non-governmental and civil society organizations working at the grassroots and subject experts.
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