The National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013, provides for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therewith. The Act was published in the Gazette of India on the 10th of September 2013 and deemed to have come into force on 5th July 2013.
As per the provisions under Section 16 of the Act, every State Government shall, by notification, constitute a State Food Commission for the purpose of monitoring and review of implementation of this Act. The State Government constituted the Meghalaya State Food Commission vide Notification No.SUP.48/2015/24 dated the 17th May, 2016 with Shri. B.K.DevVarma IAS (Retd) as Chairman, and Smti. L.Kharkongor IAS (Retd),Smti. R.D.Marak IAS (Retd), Shri R.L.Sethia, Dr.(Mrs) C.B.Sangma ( Retd. DHS,MCH & FW), Shri Ravi Gurung as Members, and Smti M.H K Marak, IAS as Member Secretary. Subsequently, the terms and conditions of the appointments were notified vide Memo.No.SUP.24/2014/pt/32 dated 6th October 2016. Sanction for creation of posts for the Commission was accorded on 13th December 2016, and budget provision was made available by way of re-appropriation on 6th January 2017. The Chairman joined on 23rd May 2016, and the other Members joined in October 2016.
Activities so far:
2016 – 17 : The Commission held six meetings in which it reviewed the action taken by the Food and Civil Supplies Department, Social Welfare Department and Education Department in implementing the provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013. Questionnaires were circulated to these Departments on the targeted Public Distribution System, the provisions relating to pregnant and lactating mothers, and children in the age group 0-6 years, and the Mid Day Meal Scheme. Based on the replies to the questionnaires, and meetings held with the officials of these Departments, the Commission published its observations and recommendations in the Annual Report 2016-17, which was laid before the State Legislature in December 2017.
2017 – 18 : The Commission held nine meetings and Awareness Programmes in different district headquarters covering the three regions of the State i.e 3rd May 2017 in Shillong, 8th June 2017 in Tura, 7th July 2017 in Jowai, 16th November 2017 in Nongstoin and 29th November 2017 in Williamnagar. The programmes were attended by Chairman/Members of the Commission and inaugurated by the Deputy Chief Minister, Food and Civil Supplies Department. The objective of these programmes was to sensitise the Departmental Officers as well as the general public on the entitlements and services to be provided under the National Food Security Act 2013. Presentations were made by the three departments on the provisions of the Act relating to their department, followed by question and answer sessions.
The Commission published its second Annual report i.e 2017-18, in which its observations and recommendations were forwarded to the Government on 20th September 2018 ,and was laid on the table of the House on 6th September 2019.
2018 - 19 : The Commission held eleven meetings and reviewed the action taken by Departments with reference to queries sent to them on various aspects of the Food Security Act. The Food and Civil Supplies Department was requested to instruct the Deputy Commissioners to install Toll free numbers in their offices/Food Security Cells for lodging of complaints, and Education and Social Welfare Departments were advised to utilise the Vigilance Committees set up by Food and Civil Supplies Department for receipt of complaints under MDM and ICDS. The Departments were also requested to take action on the Social Audit Reports of the MSSAT. One Suo Moto case has been taken up in East Khasi Hills District based on newspaper reports that the Fair Price Shops were cheating the consumers by using faulty weighing machines. The Annual Report 2018 – 19 is under print in Directorate of Printing and Stationery.
- On 21st May 2017, a report in the Meghalaya Times under the heading, ”Siphoning of PDS rice in West Garo Hills comes to light,” alleged that a truck full of rice was caught making suspicious rounds near the town area.
- A report was called from the Addl. Chief Secretary, Food & Civil Supplies on 23rd May 2017. A case had been registered by the Police and investigation into the matter was under process.
- On 3rd August 2017, an article appeared in the Shillong Times under the heading, “Achik body seeks probe into PDS pilferage in Garo Hills,” where the NGO alleges that majority of the Fair Price Shops in the region are selling foodgrains at a higher price that what is mentioned under the Act, and they provide less quantity. Another Report of the same nature was published in the Meghalaya Guardian on the 2nd August 2017, and in Shillong Times on 30th October 2018.
- A Report was called from the Deputy Commissioner, West Garo Hills, Tura on 7th August 2017.
- The Deputy Commissioner informed that the licences of the concerned Fair Price Shops have been cancelled.
- On 10th July 2017, an article appeared in the Shillong times under the caption, “Anomalies in allotment of PDS items in Shella Village,” where it was alleged that beneficiaries under NFSA are being charged more than the specified price that is fixed by the Govt for PDS items.
- A Report was called from the Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills, Shillong on the 13th July 2017.
- On 31st October 2017, the Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills, Shillong informed that the SDO(c) Sohra Civil Sub Division had filed an FIR with the O.C., Sohra Police Station against the Village Durbar, the Vigilance Committee, the Chairman and Secretary of Mawsiangei village for non compliance of NFSA to the beneficiaries of the village.
On 20th May 2017, an article appeared in the Shillong Times under the caption “BJYM targets Govt over dues to SHG’s, anganwadis” in which it was alleged that the Government had not cleared the pending bills to SHG’s and societies since 2015 amounting to Rs.75 crore, despite the Centre releasing the funds regularly.
- A report was called for from the Additional Chief Secretary, Social Welfare Department on 23rd May 2017, and a reminder was issued on 16th October 2017.The Department informed that all pending Supplementary Nutrition Programme bills under Anganwadi Servies (ICDS) have been cleared including current bills upto 2nd Ouarter 2019. A porposal for annual requirement was submitted to Government for sunction and the same has been received . Hence honorarium is paid on a monthly basis to the Anganwadi Workers/Helpers.
- On 15th February 2018, it was reported in the Shillong Times that “Midday Meal Scheme Failed in State,” and it was alleged that an independent research scholar at North Easter Hill University carried out a study and found that the MDM Scheme has been shoddily implemented over the years.
- A report was called from Principal Secretary, Education Department on 5th March 2018.
- On 27th August 2018, a report was received from the Department that an enquiry had been conducted in the matter, and it was found that the NEHU scholar, who had allegedly carried out the study had never conducted such a study on the MDM, but did a study on the Fiscal Performance of Meghalaya.
- On 30th April 2019, a report appeared in the Shillong Times wherein an NGO visited some ration shops and found anomalies in the quantity of rice being issued to the PDS beneficiaries.
- A Report was called from the Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills, Shillong on 13th June 2018, and the report was received on 26th June 2018.
- However, since the report was incomplete, a Suo Moto Case was taken up on 22th September 2018 and a Commission was set up the enquire into the matter
- The Enquiry Report was submitted by the Commission on 8th January 2019, and responsibility was fixed on all the respondents.
- The Deputy Commissioner (Supply) and 6(six) Fair Price Shops were issued a notice on 31st May 2019 and asked to inform if they wanted to contest the case, to which they replied in the negative. Hence they were all fined Rs.5000/- each under NFSA Act 2013 on 4th July 2019.
- On 13th August 2019 , a letter to the Editor appeared in the Shillong Time under the caption "Violation of Mid day Meal Scheme" ,requesting appropriate action agaisnt the errant persons for distribution of rice and lentil (both uncooked) to the students under Mid Day Meal scheme and collecting Rs 50/- from each student as transportation cost in violation of the guideline of the Govt. of India. A Suo-Moto case was taken up on 19th August 2019 against the school and the Education Department. The matter is under process.