Food Bill to be tabled in Winter Parliament Session: Thomas
"We will be able to table the Food Security Bill only in the Winter Session of Parliament, as consultation with state governments and various ministries is still on," Thomas told reporters here.
The Bill, under which the government plans to give a legal entitlement to cheaper food grains to nearly 70 percent of the country's population, was expected to be tabled in the ongoing Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
Giving details, the Food Minister said the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) and Law Ministry have already approved the draft of the Bill.
They have maintained the core of the draft of the proposed Bill, Thomas added.
The draft bill was sent to state governments for their opinion last Friday, he said, adding that the process will take at least 15 days.
After that, the Prime Minister will call a meeting of Chief Ministers to give final shape to the Bill, which would be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament, Thomas said.
Addressing the nation on the occasion of India's 65th Independence Day on August 15, 2011, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government will soon table the National Food Security Act.
"After the rights to education, employment and information, we will soon enact a legislation for providing food security to the people," he had said.
Singh had also said: "We also need to increase agricultural production to implement a food security law. We will accelerate our efforts in this direction in the 12th Plan."
Thomas said the proposed Food Security Bill has incorporated the majority of the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee (NAC), headed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
In reply to a query on the extent of the population that would be covered under the Bill, Thomas said, "We have not reached a final figure".
The EGOM, which had recently approved the draft version of the Bill, had provided for subsidised grain distribution even to above the poverty line (APL) households as defined by the government.
However, while the NAC had recommended coverage of 90 percent of the population under the Act, the EGoM suggested that only 75 percent of rural families should be included in its ambit.