Govt unveils Food Security Bill draft

Govt unveils Food Security Bill draft

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday unveiled the draft of the National Food Security Bill, seeking to cover up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of urban households with a proposed monthly entitlement of 7 kg foodgrain per person, at Rs3 per kg for rice, Rs2 per kg for wheat and Rs1 per kg for coarse grains.

“For general households it is 3 kg at an issue price not exceeding 50% of minimum support price (MSP) of wheat and coarse grains and derived MSP of rice," the food ministry said in a statement.

The legislation, which was promised by the ruling Congress party in its manifesto for the 2009 general elections and reiterated by President Pratibha Patil in her address to the joint session of Parliament that year, proposes to give legal right to take home ration/meal to women, children, special groups including destitute and homeless, emergency and disaster affected persons and persons living in starvation.

The government proposes to set up a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism at district, state and national levels for the implementation of the legislation.

Although the legislation was widely expected to top the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s agenda after it returned to power in 2009, it was delayed by differences between the finance ministry and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, which proposed to make it a comprehensive food and nutrition security coverage.

The ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution has sought comments from the public.

The Congress party and its allies, battling a major loss of face because of corruption scandals and other controversies surrounding their leaders, expect the proposed legislation to revive their prospects ahead of crucial elections in states including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.