IMPHAL: Human Rights Alert (HRA) welcomes the activation of State Food Commission of Manipur, which had been remaining dormant ever since its inception in 2015, for almost five years.
On 10 June 2020, for the first time, the State Food Commission, Manipur passed two orders. The first one pertains to the none issuance of the relief materials to the Mangal Female Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts, Torbung, Churachandpur District and the other one pertains to the none availability of rice under the COVID-19 relief of 73 tenants of Sagolband, Imphal West District. Both the complaints also mentioned the non-functioning of the web portal www.pdsmanipur.nic.in meant for submitting complaints and other grievance redressal mechanisms. The orders, signed by the two members of the Food Commission, namely, A. Nibedita Devi and Th. Saimon Singh, registered the complaints and issued notice to the respective Deputy Commissioners and nodal officers, which are returnable on 22.06.2020.
It may be noted that according to the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), every State should constitute a State Food Commission to monitor and evaluate its proper implementation, to receive complaints and to inquire into violation of entitlements, to give advice for effective implementation to the State government as well as to NGOs etc. Even though the Government of Manipur designated and empowered the Manipur State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission to exercise the power and perform the function of State Food Commission on 3 October 2015, the Commission has not been performing a single act in exercise of this power until 10 June 2020.
HRA nevertheless is happy to see that the Commission has finally started functioning. HRA would like to believe that the activation of the State Food Commission is one of the many positive spin-offs of the 13 May 2020 judgement of the Hon’ble High Court of Manipur in PIL case no. 11 of 2020 on the same subject. HRA urges the Government of Manipur to ensure that a full-fledged Food Commission is able to function as per the NFSA. The Commission, presently housed in the old Assembly Building, should keep a visible sign board for the public to see, to begin with. It could be of great service to the people of Manipur, particularly to the poorer and the marginalized sections of the society. The role of such a Commission has become all the more important considering the grave hardships faced by the people during unprecedented lockdown of COVID-19 pandemic.