The government today introduced the landmark Food Security Bill in Lok Sabha which,when passed,will replace an Ordinance and will give the country’s two-third population right to highly subsidised foodgrains. Food Minister K V Thomas said the bill is likely to be passed in the current session and once it becomes an Act,states will get 6-12 months to implement it. The discussion on the bill will start next week and after Lok Sabha approves it,the legislation will be introduced in Rajya Sabha. On approval of the Upper House,the government will commit to give 67 per cent of the nation’s population 5 kg foodgrain per month at Rs 1-3 per kg. The households covered under Antyodaya Anna Yojna (AAY) would be entitled to get 35 kg of foodgrains per month.
“Discussion on the bill will begin on Monday. Once it is passed in the Lower House,it will go the Rajya Sabha. Once it is cleared,the states will get six months to one year to implement the Act,” Thomas told PTI. Asked if the UPA government is confident of getting the support of its allies and the Opposition,he said,”All democratic forces want the right to food to be given to poor. I don’t think they will oppose. They will support and the bill will be passed in this session.” The minister said the Centre is in touch with all states. States like Delhi,Haryana,Uttarkhand and Kerala are ready to roll out this new programme. He said even non-congress ruled states could implement. “They have apprehensions. We will sort it out.”
Stressing that the success of this new programme would depend on leakage-proof PDS and setting of godowns by states,the minister said,”Some states have taken measures to strengthen PDS. We want all of them take urgent steps.” The subsidy burden would be Rs 1.30 lakh crore and foodgrains requirement would be 62 million tonnes annually. As per the provisions of the bill,beneficiaries would get rice at Rs 3/kg,wheat at Rs 2/kg,and coarse grains at Re 1/kg. This rates would be valid for three years. Every pregnant woman and lactating mother would get free meal during pregnancy and six months after child birth. They will also get a maternity benefit of Rs 6,000 in instalments. Children upto 14 years would get free meals. In case of non-supply of foodgrains,states will have to pay food security allowance to beneficiaries.