Rajasthan: Experts call for urgent need to review State Food Commission

Two leaders from peasant and academic organisations write a letter to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to voice concerns about the appointments in the State Food Commission.

farmers protest

Founders of workers organisation sent a letter to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on December 23, 2020, requesting the urgent need to implement an independent State Food Commission to implement the food security law and monitor the system, redress grievances that have worsened during coronavirus lockdown and appoint experts in this commission.

“It is expected that you will intervene as soon as possible in the State Food Commission and work to appoint the Chairman and members from the Implementation department in January 2021 for proper implementation of the National Food Security Act [NFSA] 2013,” said the letter.

Centre for Equity Studies Founder Harsh Mander said that the institution in association with the Delhi and Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan in Rajasthan and other organizations conducted a symbolic survey in October 2020 that revealed that hunger increased in the last nine months of lockdown.

The study also showed that many people do not have ration cards and are unable to become beneficiaries of NFSA. Few families received food grains under the self-sufficient India scheme.

The full report of the survey can be viewed below:

Consumption decreased compared to the pre-lockdown situation, nutritional status deteriorated. Many people are living and sleeping on an empty stomach Some even resorted to taking loans for food, said the report.

According to Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan Founder Aruna Roy activists and welfare groups were happy when the law was first introduced by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2013.

However, members of the concerned Food Commission were disappointed at the lack of attention given to the grievance redressal system in the last 7 years.

“Nominee District Grievance Redressal Officers (DGROs) were appointed under Section 15 of the law, that too were made to Additional District Collectors (ADMs) who already have a lot of work and no assessment of this arrangement,” she said.

For this reason, Roy and Mander demanded the creation of a State Food Commission independent of an Implementation Committee.

“The idea of this commission was that if the government does not implement this law, then there should be an independent commission which… [can hold the government] responsible for the deficiencies,” they said.

Accordingly, State Food Safety Commissions were formed in over 15 states with retired doctors or IAS officers or university professors or appointed food safety and nutritionists, social workers as members.

Yet, Rajasthan will be the first state to appoint all ex-officio government officials in the commission such as

Rajasthan State Agricultural Marketing Director Tara Chand Meena, Integrated Child Development Services Director Dr. Pratibha Singh, Social Justice and Empowerment Department Director Om Prakash Bunkar, Secondary Education Department Director Sorabh Swamy, State Health Assurance Agency Chief Executive Aruna Rajoria and Food Department Additional Commissioner Suresh Chand Gupta as the Member Secretary.



“According to the qualifications related to the selection, the government may be right, it may follow the letter of the law, but contrary to its hypothesis it is appointed. The work given in the law on the scale of transparency and accountability does not fit at all. The major functions of the Commission are to monitor and evaluate the implementation of this law, investigate complaints and the state government and all agencies have the right to this law. Our question is whether the executing department will evaluate its own works and advise itself. It can never be ethical,” they said.

The leaders also pointed out that the government failed to complete the procedure for the creation of the State Food Commission in the last seven years.

In 2016, the State Consumer Forum was given the responsibility of the State Food Commission momentarily before withdrawing it due to public criticism. In 2017, appointments were announced in the State Food Commission, but the process has remained incomplete.

Roy and Mander hoped that Gehlot who finally formed the Commission on December 15, 2020 would understand that the same set of people cannot be the judge and the accused at the same time.

“We believe that you will look at our letter and remove those who have been appointed in the current commission and will appoint independent experts in the public sector,” they said.

The complete letter can be viewed below:


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