In March 2022, during a call with Bharat Kumar, a resident of Pindwara, Sirohi district, Rajasthan, I learnt that Bharat was unable to access the food entitlements guaranteed to him under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. He said that he had made multiple applications to have his and his family’s names added to the list of beneficiaries, but they were rejected each time.
To remedy this, Bharat filed a complaint on Rajasthan Sampark—a centralised portal for citizens to lodge their grievances with the state government—through the Jawabdehi Andolan. The enforcement inspector at Sirohi’s food and civil supplies department responded to the complaint, saying that the portal through which new names are added to the state’s NFSA list was closed, making it impossible to take action and resolve Bharat’s case. Dissatisfied with this response, the complaint was further escalated to the department’s district supply officer (DSO). The DSO’s response was that as per the policy of the department, there was a halt on the adding of new names to the food security list, making action impossible in Bharat’s case. The DSO was referring to a notice which states that in Rajasthan, the Government of India provides entitlements to a maximum of 4.46 crore people under the NFSA and that any new applications were not being accepted at the moment—a completely different explanation than the supposedly ‘technical’ issue of a shut portal.
The reason for not adding new names to the NFSA list—despite the Right to Food being a constitutional right—is that the state is allocated food grains by the Centre on the basis of population data from the Census 2011. Given that this data is more than 10 years old, under current population estimates, nearly 54 lakh people in Rajasthan are denied the benefits they are entitled to under the NFSA. In effect, this violates national legislation and numerous judicial decisions that guarantee the Right to Food.
Know more: Read how a social worker from Rajasthan helps communities access their entitlements.
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