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Sep 14, 2011, 03.06 PM IST | Source: PTI

Govt seeks public comments on draft Food Bill

The government today sought public comments on the draft National Food Security Bill, which seeks to provide a legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains to 75% of the country's rural population and 50% of urban India.

Govt seeks public comments on draft Food Bill

The government today sought public comments on the draft National Food Security Bill, which seeks to provide a legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains to 75% of the country's rural population and 50% of urban India.

Food Minister KV Thomas said the government has also sought the views of state governments on the draft Bill, which it plans to introduce in the next Session of Parliament.

The draft Bill has been put up on the Food Ministry's website for feedback from concerned stakeholders.

Under the proposed Act, which Congress had promised to institutionalise in its manifesto for the 2009 General Elections, the government has divided the beneficiaries of the food security law into two categories.

These are: priority households (below poverty line families) and general households (above poverty line families).

Out of the rural population to be covered under the Act, at least 46% of the people would fall in the category of 'priority households'. In urban areas, at least 28% of 'priority households' will be covered.

"The proposed entitlement in the Bill is 7 kg of foodgrains per person, per month, for priority households at an issue price of Rs 3/kg (rice), Rs 2/kg (wheat) and Rs 1/kg (coarse cereals)," an official statement said.

In the case of general households, the Bill seeks to supply 3 kg of foodgrains per month to each individual at an issue price not exceeding 50% of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat and coarse grains and the derived MSP of rice, it said.

Commenting on the development, Thomas said, "The draft Bill has also been sent to the states for their comments. The Bill will be introduced in the next session of Parliament."

Other provisions in the proposed Bill include giving a legal right to food to women, children,  special groups such as the destitute and homeless and emergency and disaster-affected persons.

The Centre proposes to set up a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism at the district, state and national-level for transparency and accountability in implementation of the food security legislation.

The draft Bill was prepared by the Food Ministry after taking into account the recommendations of the National Advisory Council (NAC) and an Expert Committee headed by Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) Chairman C Rangarajan.

Currently, the government provides 35 kg of foodgrains per month to 6.52 crore BPL families and at least 15 kg of wheat and rice to 11.5 crore APL families through ration shops.

Wheat and rice are supplied to BPL families at Rs 4.15/kg and Rs 5.65/kg, respectively. In the case of APL families, the rates are a little higher, at Rs 6.10/kg of wheat and Rs 8.30/kg of rice.

The government's food subsidy expenditure, which is estimated at about Rs 82,000 crore this fiscal, is expected to cross Rs 1,00,000 crore once the proposed Act is implemented.

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