The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has said that the state government will start implementation of the ambitious National Food Security Ordinance on August 20, the birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi. “We have already done the spadework and are fully prepared for implementation of the Ordinance”, Mr Hooda said while addressing a press conference, here today. Haryana has 9,174 Fair Price Shops through which the beneficiaries are now supplied subsidized food grains. Mr Hooda said that the number of beneficiary families after implementation of the Ordinance would increase from 12 lakh to 27.84 lakh. On an average, one Fair Price Shop has 638 ration cards against the capacity of 1,200 to 1,300 ration cards. “Thus, the state has enough infrastructure to successfully implement the scheme”, the Chief Minister added. The Chief Minister said that a committee had been constituted under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Mr P.K. Chaudhery, to work out modalities for inclusion of more beneficiaries under the scheme. The committee will submit its report within one week. Describing the National Food Security Ordinance as a historical decision of the UPA Government, Mr Hooda said it was the dream of the Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi that nobody remained deprived of food, clothing and shelter. In order to realize this dream the UPA Government has taken the initiative to implement the Ordinance. Mr Hooda said that the former Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, had given the slogan, “Garibi Hatao” and her successor, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, armed the Panchayati Raj Institutions with more powers to strengthen and revitalize the roots of democracy. And the UPA Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has given the slogan, “Congress Ka Hath-Garib Ke Saath”. The UPA Government has not only made efforts to ensure food security, but had also implemented revolutionary initiatives like the Right to Information Act and MGNREGA. “The decision on food ordinance taken for the welfare of the poor would be written in golden letters in the history of the country”, he said. Implementation of the Food Security Ordinance would benefit two-thirds of the total population of the country and provide rice, wheat and coarse cereals at the rate of Rs 3, 2 and 1 per kilogram, respectively. However, Mr Hooda said that the Antyodaya Anna Yojana AAY category ration card holders were already getting 35 kg of wheat every month at the same price. The eligible households and targeted beneficiaries will also get these items at same prices. To other BPL ration card holders, these are given at the rate of Rs 5.20 per kg but now under the new scheme BPL ration card holders and the new beneficiaries listed under the scheme would also get these items at same prices. Referring to the present number of beneficiaries in the state, Mr. Hooda said that there were 54.41 lakh beneficiaries under AAY, BPL and State BPL, constituting 21.42 per cent of the total population. Under the new scheme, the number of such beneficiaries would increase to 130.86 lakh, constituting 51.6 per cent of the total population of the state. However, he said that the number of additional beneficiaries under the scheme would go up to 76.45 lakh constituting 30.18 per cent of the total population. Detailing the urban and rural beneficiaries, Mr Hooda said that at present 38.6 lakh rural beneficiaries were availaing themselves of the benefit of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) constituting 23.35 per cent of the rural population. Now, with implementation of the new scheme, 85.29 lakh rural beneficiaries would be benefited under the TPDS constituting 51.59 per cent of the rural population. Similarly in the urban areas, 15.81 lakh beneficiaries constituting 17.91 per cent of the urban population are availing themselves of the benefit under the TPDS. Under the new scheme, the number of such beneficiaries will increase to 45.57 lakh, constituting 51.66 per cent of the urban populace. He maintained that the ranks of rural beneficiaries would go up 2.2 times while those in the urban areas 2.9 times. The Chief Minister said that special emphasis had been laid on nutritional support to women and children in the Food Security Ordinance. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms, would also receive maternity benefit of at least Rs 6,000. This scheme, Mr Hooda said, had earlier been implemented in Panchkula District only with maternity benefit of Rs 4,000. Now, it would be rolled out in the entire state, benefiting all pregnant women and lactating mothers with increased amount of Rs 6,000. Hooda said that under Section 31 of the Ordinance, the interest of producers had also been taken care of. The provision contains revitalization of agriculture; agrarian reforms through measures for securing interest of small and marginal farmers; increase in investments in agriculture, including research and development, extension services, micro and minor irrigation and power to increase productivity and production. This section also ensures livelihood security to farmers by way of remunerative prices, access to inputs, credit, irrigation, power and crop insurance and prohibits unwarranted diversion of land and water from food production, procurement, storage and movement related interventions. It also provides for access to safe and adequate drinking water and sanitation, healthcare, nutritional, health and educational support to adolescent girls. Mr Hooda said that most of the recommendations given by the working group of Chief Ministers constituted by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, under his (Mr. Hooda) Chairmanship for ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers had been incorporated in Section 31 of the Ordinance.