In the last seven years, the Bangla Government has ensured food security for 90% of the State’s population. Khadya Sathi is one of the flagship programmes of the Bangla Government, implemented by the Food & Supplies Department.
In fact, managing a targeted public distribution system (TPDS) and procurement of paddy and rice at MSP to prevent distressed sale are the principal activities of this department, and the Khadya Sathi Scheme is an integral part of these activities.
The major challenge is to ensure the reach of subsidised foodgrains to the poorest of the poor.
Beneficiaries increased manifold
In financial year (FY) 2010-11, 2.74 crore people in Bangla were getting rice at Rs 2 per kg. This covered only the people under below poverty line (BPL) and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) categories. In order to improve the access to food for the vulnerable sections, the coverage was increased manifold in the following seven years by the Trinamool Congress Government.
The flagship programme, Khadya Sathi was launched in January 2016. As of now, it ensures food security for around 8.59 crore people. Out of this, 7.20 crore people belonging to disadvantaged sections of society, who get rice and wheat at Rs 2 per kg and the comparatively well-off 1.39 crore people get foodgrains at half the market price.
Out of the 7.2 crore people, 48.07 lakh beneficiaries are covered under special packages for the Jangalmahal region, Cyclone Aila-affected families, unwilling land-giving farmers of Singur, workers and non-workers of closed tea gardens, Hill areas, Toto tribe (staying in Totopara), and other destitute and homeless people. The achievement shows the exponential growth in coverage of people under PDS.
Special package for severely acute malnourished children
Part of the Khadya Sathi Scheme is a special package for severely acute malnourished (SAM) children. This nutrition programme is implemented in association with Health & Family Welfare Department. As part of this, from FY 2014-15, free-of-cost nutritional support is being provided to approximately 5,200 SAM category children and their mothers. The package consists of 5 kg rice, 2.5 kg wheat, 1 kg masoor dal and 1kg Bengal gram per month.
Thus, through the Khadya Sathi scheme, Mamata Banerjee-led Bangla Government is ensuring nutritional security for people of all ages across the length and breadth of the State. Access to proper food is no longer an issue now.