Cabinet nod to food bill likely Tuesday

December 12th, 2011 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) With the cabinet all set to approve the draft National Food Security Bill Tuesday, the government plans to introduce it in the ongoing winter session of parliament, which ends Dec 22.

“The cabinet will take up the bill Tuesday,” Food Minister K.V. Thomas told IANS.

The draft bill, which bears the stamp of Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, seeks to cover upto 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of urban households. It proposes right to 7 kg foodgrains per month per person, at Rs.3 per kg for rice, Rs.2 per kg for wheat and Rs.1 per kg for coarse grains to the priority beneficiaries.

“We have fast-tracked the process and will introduce the bill this session,” said Thomas.

Sources said the food ministry has obtained views of the related ministries and has adequately addressed their concerns in the draft bill.

For instance, the draft bill suggests investment in the agriculture sector to boost food production in the long run. It also stresses on revamping the public distribution system, which will deliver the grains to the beneficiaries.

Taking note of concerns expressed by the states, the ministry has provided for cost- sharing in all the schemes under the draft bill.

The states want the central government to fully or partially share the cost of implementing the proposed law which is expected to substantially push the current food subsidy bill to Rs.63,000 crore.

For instance, the cost-sharing model in the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme would be different from the mid-day meal scheme.

Other objections of the states include authority to decide on the criteria to identify the beneficiaries.

While the Chhattisgarh government wants to do the job itself, Bihar prefers an independent body to identify the beneficiaries.

Officials said the draft bill proposes legal rights to women, children, special groups including the destitute and homeless, emergency and disaster affected persons and persons living in starvation to take home ration/meals.

To implement the right to food, the government has proposed to set up a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism at district, state and national level for the implementation of the legislation.

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