Rights group slams Food Security Bill draft in letter to PM

August 2nd, 2011 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) Activists of the Right to Food campaign Tuesday wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh slamming the government’s draft of the Food Security Bill cleared by the empowered group of ministers (EgoM) and urged it to save the Public Distribution System.

“The right to food campaign rejects the EGoM cleared draft of the food security bill and appeals to you to sincerely respond to the needs of hunger and malnutrition of women, children and excluded groups. Help save the PDS (public distribution system) and save the farmers,” the campaign members wrote to the prime minister.

The members of the campaign include activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Arundhati Dhuru, and Kavita Srivastava from the People’s Union for Civic Liberties (PUCL), among others.

The Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) finalised its draft of the Bill which seeks to entitle nearly 75 percent of India’s population to subsidized foodgrains.

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 EgoM recently approved the Department of Food and Consumer Affairs draft of the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) slated to be placed before the cabinet.

The letter added: “This draft Bill makes a complete mockery of the idea of food security for all and dilutes even existing entitlements obtained through the Supreme Court.”

“It was expected that the government will increase investment in the schemes related to food security, in order to reduce the unacceptably high rates of malnutrition and hunger in India. Instead what we get is a draft which minimises government’s obligations, restricts people’s entitlements and is devoid of any accountability,” the activists said in the letter.

‘The Bill interprets food security only as distribution of cereals and cooked meals and is completely silent on pulses, millets and oil,’ campaign members wrote stressing on the “lack of commitment towards nutritional security or production”.

“We reject this farce of a Bill and demand that the Government sincerely acts towards alleviating hunger and malnutrition in the country.”

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