Centre, states to discuss food bill (Lead)February 6th, 2012 - 6:28 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 6 (IANS) The government has convened a two-day meet of state food and agriculture ministers beginning Wednesday to iron out differences over the National Food Security Bill.
Senior union cabinet ministers and government officials, including Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister K.V. Thomas will address the event, said a statement from the food ministry Monday.
The gathering is also scheduled to take up reforms in the public distribution system (PDS), procurement of foodgrains and enhancement of storage capacity.
Officials of the Planning Commission and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will also participate in the meet.
The food bill is the dream project of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and is being examined by a parliamentary standing committee.
The bill seeks to cover up to 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of urban households and proposes the right to 7 kg food grain 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 below poverty line (BPL) beneficiaries.
The general category (above poverty line or APL) beneficiaries will get at least 3 kg of ration per person per month at half the minimum support price (MSP) of grains.
However, the bill has been criticised by state chief ministers like J. Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Mayawati (Uttar Pradesh) and Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal).
Besides asking the central government to share cost of implementing the various schemes under the bill, the states are also demanding autonomy in deciding the number of beneficiaries.
According to the food ministry, the issue of additional requirement of foodgrain production, procurement, required storage capacity and quality control will be discussed in detail with the respective stakeholders during the meeting.
At present, the PDS provides subsidised grains to around 6.5 crore poor families and 11.5 crore above poverty line households.
Sources said PDS suffers from heavy leakages (of up to 40 percent).
The government is working on improving procurement infrastructure and optimisation of storage and transportation cost and losses.
It is also considering committed transportation system for speedy movement of foodgrain to consuming states from procurement centres. A move to effect direct payments to farmers to encourage procurement is also being adopted.
The central government wants to ask the states to check issuance of bogus ration cards, digitise PDS and ensure grains reach only genuine beneficiaries.
These measures are expected to help the government reduce its current food subsidy burden at Rs.63,000 crore, which is likely to go up substantially once the right to food law is implemented.
- Government reviews food security bill - Feb 29, 2012
- Parliamentary panel on food bill to meet Jan 23 - Jan 18, 2012
- Government to take states on board over food bill - Jan 10, 2012
- Landmark food security bill tabled in parliament (Lead) - Dec 22, 2011
- 'Food security bill before cabinet soon' - Jul 21, 2011
- Concerns on food bill to be addressed: Thomas - Feb 09, 2012
- Discussions on PDS with states Feb 8-9: Thomas - Jan 13, 2012
- Tripura opposes food security bill - Oct 18, 2011
- Cabinet clears food bill (Lead) - Dec 18, 2011
- Give surplus foodgrain free to poor: Apex court (Lead) - Aug 12, 2010
- Pulses, edible oils may be subsidised to reduce prices: Food Minister (Interview) - Jul 26, 2012
- Rethink food security bill: Pawar - Oct 19, 2011
- Cabinet nod to food bill likely Tuesday - Dec 12, 2011
- Cabinet defers food bill as discussions inconclusive (Second Lead) - Dec 13, 2011
- Will Sonia Gandhi's Food Bill past muster? (Lead) - Dec 18, 2011
Tags: agriculture minister, agriculture ministers, chief ministers, coarse grains, food bill, food grain, food ministry, foodgrains, j jayalalithaa, mamata banerjee west bengal, meeti, national food security, nitish kumar, parliamentary standing committee, poverty line, pranab mukherjee, public distribution system, sharad pawar, sonia gandhi, urban households