Food security Bill
to see more delay as panel tenure ends
September 24, 2012
The government is
unlikely to take up the National Food Security Bill in the
winter season of Parliament as the panel examining the proposed
law had to be reconstituted as its tenure had lapsed.
The National Food
Security Bill, 2011, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha by
food minister KV Thomas in the winter session last year, was
referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee chaired by
Vilas Muttemwar for approval.
The Bill envisages
giving legal rights to highly subsidised grain to 63% of
country?s population. The parliamentary panel discussed the
proposed legislation many times but could not finalise its
?We need to
reconstitute the parliamentary panel as its tenure lapsed last
month,? Thomas told FE. Thomas said Congress Lok Sabh MP from
Nagpur, Muttemwar, would continue to chair the panel, while new
members have to be inducted into the new panel.
The Speaker of the
Lok Sabha would shortly announce the names of new members.
Official sources said the panel could not finalise its report
due to ?lack of consensus? on basic elements. Under the proposed
legislation, the government had sought to divide the targeted
population under ?priority? and ?general? categories, where
rice, wheat and coarse grains would be distributed at R3, R2 and
R1 per kg, respectively.
The government is
now considering proposals to remove categories, such as priority
and general, altogether, as demanded by experts, including
development economists John Dreze and Planning Commission member
suggested giving uniform legal entitlement of at least 25 kg of
grain to 67% of the country's population at a fixed rate of
R3/kg rice, R2/kg wheat and R1 per kg of millet. The food Bill,
on the other hand, proposes 35 kg of grain to priority
households (BPL families) and a minimum 15 kg for general
households (APL families).
At present, under
the Targeted Public Distribution System, around 180 million
households ? 65 million BPL and 115 million above poverty line
(APL) category families ? get subsidised rations of 35 kg per
month per family through the fair-price shops.
government would not able to roll out the food Bill as the
socio-economic caste census 2011 is yet to be finalised by the
rural development and urban development ministries.
states have already gone ahead and implemented schemes similar
to this, although without legal entitlement.
Tamil Nadu, Andhra
Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Kerala have
expanded the traditional Public Distribution System (PDS) to
include people who are not below the poverty line under schemes
for guaranteed supply of food under highly subsidised rates.
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