The Bihar and Odisha Governments have spelt out the eligibility criteria for identifying eligible households to be covered under the National Food Security Act, which aims to provide subsidised food grain to 75 per cent rural and 50 per cent urban poor.

In fact, the Odisha Government has set up a task force to implement the Act, which has suggested ‘exclusion’ criteria for households, and has invited public comments.

According to the public announcement, owners of motor vehicles, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and registered fishing boats, mechanised three- or four-wheeler agricultural equipment, such as tractors will be excluded from the Act.

Also, families with any member with monthly income above Rs 10,000, pension holder getting Rs 10,000 a month, any member paying income or professional tax will not be eligible, according to the task force.

Families with a landline connection and electricity connection with 2KW or ore using more than 300 units a month will also not get benefits under the Act.

The exclusion criteria also includes any family which has a member who is a Government employee in Central, State, public sector or autonomous institutions aided by Government and the municipality, says the notice by the State department of food supply and consumer welfare.

A public notice inviting public comments by the Bihar Government broadly follows a similar criteria, except that in urban areas it plans to exclude any family with a member earning more than Rs 20,000 a month.

In urban areas, the notice announces the inclusion of beggars, rag-pickers, domestic workers, street vendors, construction workers, home-based workers, rickshaw pullers, among others.

Under the Food Security Act, being termed as a ‘game changer’ by the UPA-II Government, it is the State Governments that need to draw their own parameters to identify the beneficiaries. The Act, which made food a legal right, got Presidential assent in September 2013, and gave one year to the States for its implementation.

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