Most northeastern states opt for food security, Tripura opposes

Aizawl/Agartala, July 25 (IANS) The Congress ruled-Mizoram government, which had earlier said it could not implement the food security scheme in the state due to fund crunch, Thursday declared it would execute the plan.

Congress-ruled Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh have also batted for the scheme but the remaining northeastern states - Nagaland and Sikkim - are yet to make their stand clear.

Left Front-ruled Tripura government has opposed the National Food Security Ordinance (NFSO) in its present form.

"We have already communicated our views to the central government on the national scheme and shall again give our opinion on the NFSO. If the food security scheme is implemented in Tripura, 16 lakh people would stop drawing benefits of the PDS," Tripura's Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bhanulal Saha told IANS.

"The state (Mizoram) government is preparing itself to implement the National Food Security Ordinance (NFSO) (scheme) within the scheduled period," Mizoram Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister H. Rohluna told the assembly.

"There were some problems before actual implementation of the food security scheme. Chief Minister Lalthanhawla has already taken up the unresolved issues (of the scheme) with the central government," the minister said in a statement in the house.

He said: "Of the total population of 10 lakh, 6.33 lakh people (38.74 percent in urban and 78.47 percent in rural areas) would be covered by the food security scheme."

The minister said that additional 101,350 quintals of rice would be required per month to implement the food security scheme. The state government also needs an additional monthly financial assistance of Rs.2 crore.

"If the central government discontinued the current allocation of rice under Public Distribution System (PDS), the state government would have to bear an additional Rs.7.82 crore per month," Rohluna said.

Last week, Lalthanhawla, upon his return from New Delhi after attending a meeting of Congress chief ministers, told reporters in Aizawl the state would not be able to implement the food security scheme due to lack of funds.

"I have told the central government about the state's inability to implement the scheme due to funds shortage and that the state needed financial assistance from the central government to roll out the national scheme," he said.