CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Thursday set January 6, 2022 as the deadline for the State government to come up with an action plan to increase coverage under State Food Security Scheme (SFSS).
A division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice AK Mohapatra issued the direction after taking note of an affidavit filed by the Principal Secretary of Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department.
The figures stated in the affidavit filed on November 2 show that the SFSS had been able to cover only 11.36 lakh of the additional target of 34.44 lakh beneficiaries over the past seven months.
The State government had drawn up the additional target in March after an estimated 34.44 lakh beneficiaries were not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The affidavit was silent on how the State government proposes to increase the coverage. The Bench directed the State government to file an affidavit mentioning what steps it proposes to take in the action plan by the next date for hearing on the matter.
The Court issued the direction while hearing the PIL filed by social activist Prafulla Samantara seeking special intervention by way of food security measures and food grains to non-ration card holders in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While issuing the direction, the bench also took note of petitioner counsel Ishwar Mohanty’s submission citing the report on State of Food Security and Nutrition in Odisha where the detrimental effects of lack of nutrition among the children in Odisha has been described in detail.
The report pointed out that lack of nutritional intake of energy, protein and fat has led to prevalence of stunting and underweight among children in most parts of the State. Only three districts – Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Cuttack have acceptable levels of stunting and underweight children.