NAC okays Food Security Bill, to be sent to PM (Lead)June 23rd, 2011 - 12:13 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) has finalised its draft of the Food Security Bill, which seeks to entitle nearly 75 percent of India’s population to subsidized foodgrains, and will forward it to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon, NAC sources said Wednesday.
The decision was taken at the meeting of the NAC here Wednesday, the sources added.
The convener of the Food Security Bill, Harsh Mander informed the NAC members that “the draft law prepared by the Working Group has been legally vetted by the Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh.”
The major highlight of the draft Bill is that it “guarantees subsidized food grain to at least 90 percent of the rural households, and 50 percent of the urban households.”
The bill is viewed as a major step by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to help the ‘aam aadmi’ (common man), hit by steep inflation. The bill, which will come up before the cabinet soon, is likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament beginning Aug 1.
Under the bill 46 percent of the rural and 28 percent of the urban households categorized as ‘priority group’ would be entitled to receive foodgrains at 7 kg per head at Rs.3/2/1 for wheat or rice or millets.
Besides this, 49 percent of the rural and 22 percent of urban households categorized as ‘general group’ would be entitled to receive foodgrains at 4 kg per head at a price which will not be more than 50 percent of the minimum support price of the respective foodgrains.
The draft bill which follows a life cycle approach and introduces a number of other universal guarantees that includes nutrition support and maternity entitlement for pregnant women, nutrition support for the children both in pre-school centres and in schools including even those who are out of school.
The Food Security Bill seeks to put in place a strong accountability mechanism to protect various entitlement under it. The accountability provision provides for the imposition of fines on defaulters and compensation to the victims. The draft also provides for a strong grievance redressal and monitoring system right from the Centre to the Block level.
The bill provides for the creation of an independent and empowered District Grievances Redressal Officer.
Harsh Mander, NAC member, told reporters that the bill will be a big support to the poor and low-income groups, besides pregnant women and mothers.
The NAC meeting also held discussions on the Communal Violence bill, the NAC press release said.
The NAC while once endorsing principle features of the Bill agreed to as many as 49 amendments based on the feedback. The most significant of these amendments is the agreement to delete a clause which refers to Article 355 of the constitution. The NAC admitted that the presence of this clause “mistakenly created a fear that it may interfere with the Federal Structure (of the constitution).”
Another important amendment relates to the definition of communal and targeted violence which includes reference to ‘destruction of the secular fabric’. “It was agreed that this was too high a threshold, and therefore it was agreed to delete this phrase.” The full list of the amendments, NAC release said, would be put on NAC website on June 23, 2011,
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