New Delhi: Aiming to provide a legal right on subsidised foodgrains to the poor, food minister KV Thomas on Thursday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said the draft of the proposed National Food Security Act has been finalized and it will be sent to the panel of ministers.
Thomas said his ministry has finalised the draft bill and will send it to other ministries before sending it to the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food.
“We briefed the Prime Minister about the draft Food Security Bill. He shared the larger vision of the bill and asked to look at the procurement level,” Thomas told reporters after the meeting.
The Prime Minister had said yesterday that the proposed Bill needs to be worked within the existing procurement level of 55 million tonnes.
Thomas said: “We hope to procure the required foodgrains for the proposed bill as the country’s foodgrain production is expected to be higher and also the government godowns have huge stock.”
The Food Ministry has proposed to give a legal right on subsidised foodgrains to 70% of India’s population and foodgrains procurement has to be enhanced to 60-65 million tonnes from the current average of 55 million tonnes.
The meeting was also attended by Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Foodgrain stocks in the government godowns are at an all time high of 65.4 million tonnes, while the current storage capacity stands at 62.36 million tonnes.
The minister further said the draft bill is in line with the recommendations of Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC).
It will ensure a universal legal entitlement as homeless, pregnant women and children will also be covered, besides BPL and APL families, he added.
The country is set to harvest a record 235.88 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2010-11 crop year (July-June) on the back of good monsoon.
At present, the government provides 35 kg of foodgrains to 6.52 crore families that are below poverty line (BPL), through ration shops. Wheat is provided at Rs 4.15 per kg and rice at Rs 5.65 per kg.