M A I N   N E W S

Food Bill gets Parliament nod
Rajya Sabha passes historic legislation; Rejects 200 amendments by Oppn
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

What it means

  • A single category of beneficiaries entitled to 5 kg foodgrain per person per month
  • Protects entitlement of Antyodaya households at 35 kg per household per month
  • Provides food security allowance in case of non-supply of foodgrain
  • Ensures Rs 6,000 maternity allowance for women besides nutritional food
  • The Centre will bear intra-state transportation and foodgrain handling costs

Food quotes

Arun JaitleyIt (the Bill) merely repackages the existing schemes of the government. It neither increases the coverage of the existing schemes nor the financial grant to them. It is inferior to what the state governments are already offering

— Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in RS

Sitaram YechuryIf the government is sincere... it should extend the programme to the entire population because there are mulnourished people among the remaining 33% of the population who would not be covered

— Sitaram Yechury, CPM leader

Mani Shankar AiyerHowever gargantuan the task of procuring, storing, transporting, delivering, if at the last mile there is a bureaucrat responsible and not an elected representative — there is no hope at all

— Mani Shankar Aiyer,
Congress leader

New Delhi, September 2
Parliament stamped its approval to the National Food Security Bill with the Rajya Sabha tonight passing by voice vote the landmark legislation aimed at providing cheap foodgrain to nearly 82 crore people in the country.

The Upper House rejected a statutory resolution moved by Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley disapproving the National Food Security Ordinance promulgated by the President on July 5 and more than 200 amendments moved by Opposition members.

Aware of the fact that the ruling coalition was in a minority in the House, UPA members led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were present in full strength.

The Bill, championed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is being seen as a “game-changer” for the UPA regime, as it gears up for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 26 and will now go to the President for assent before it becomes a law to usher in the world’s biggest programme to fight hunger.

Replying to a seven-hour debate, Food Minister KV Thomas assured the House that the federal system of the country would be fully protected while implementing the provisions of the Bill.

“The Bill will also protect all food security schemes in force in different states.”

He said the Centre would carefully examine all proposals made by different parties while implementing the legislation. “Both Centre and state governments have to go hand in hand to implement the provisions of the Bill.”

During the debate, the BJP and the Left parties raised their concerns over certain provisions of the Bill, while the Congress and its allies described it a historic legislation that would go a long way in providing food to every poor in the country. Jaitley said the Bill was an abuse of the ordinance-issuing power of the government. The Bill, he observed, legislated on a subject that had to be implemented entirely by states.

“It merely repackages the existing schemes of the government. It neither increases the coverage of the existing schemes nor the financial grant to them. It is inferior to what the state governments are already offering,” said Jaitley.

CPM member Sitaram Yechury said the Bill had been brought forward by the government with an eye on the elections, while BSP member Mayawati was of the view that the Centre should bear the entire burden of providing food security or the Bill would not achieve its desired result.

The Bill flows from the National Food Security Ordinance promulgated on July 5. The legislation seeks to make the right to food and nutritional security a legal right by providing specific entitlement to certain groups. Under the provisions of the Bill, the poorest of the poor will receive 35 kg of foodgrain per family per month, while others (the priority group) will receive 5 kg foodgrain per person per month. The Centre will determine the number of persons to receive food security in each state. State governments will be responsible for specifying criteria for identifying households.





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