New Delhi: Even as the Union Cabinet has achieved success by approving the Food Security Bill, the great challenges lie ahead in its implementation. The identification of poor for ensuring food distribution would prove to be an uphill task and if a behavioral solution is not found, the mafia involved with the Public Distribution System (PDS) will play a spoilsport in implementation of the scheme.

Many state governments and organizations have already informed the Centre of the existing malpractice.

Due to political reasons like upcoming Assembly elections in five states and constant attacks on the Central government by the opposition parties along with its own alliance partners on price rise, corruption and blackmoney amid the ongoing Anna movement, the decision made in a hurry can be misused by the foodgrain mafia.

In order to identify the poor, the government had launched socio-economic census 2011 to be completed before December 31, 2011. However, the census has yet not taken off in Uttar Pradesh while only one percent work in Maharashtra and 15 percent work in Andhra Pradesh has been completed so far. Moreover, Bihar had put a question mark on the census itself.

The Food Distribution Bill will be implemented on the basis of this census. According to the sources in Rural Development Ministry, if the census continues at the same pace, the ration system cannot be started from April 2012.

Notably, the whole process of the census is under question. This will banish the categories of APL, BPL and AAY and only consumers from General and Priority sector will be considered under the census. The seven standards set as the basis for the census are strongly objected by the non-governmental organisations.

The Centre and the states have been on loggerheads on identification of poor and their numbers. The Centre has declared 37.2 percent of population as poor but the state governments are of different view. However, there is a provision to provide food to more families under the Food Security Bill. While the Planning Commission has declared 6.52 crore families as poor, the state governments have declared 10.76 families as poor. They have also been issued ration cards.

JPN/Bureau