Govt revises Food bill, sends to Law Min for vetting
New Delhi: Government has revised the Food bill and now proposes to give legal right to over 5 kg of foodgrains at Rs 1-3 per kg per month to about 70 percent of the population as suggested by the Parliamentary panel, Food Minister K V Thomas said Tuesday.
A revised bill has been sent to the Law Ministry for vetting, after which it will be moved to the Cabinet, he said.
In the original bill, introduced in December 2011 in the Lok Sabha, the government had proposed giving 7 kg of wheat (Rs 2/kg) and rice (Rs 3/kg) per month per person to 'priority households', while at least 3 kg of foodgrain at half of the government fixed support price was proposed for the 'general' households.
"We have accepted most of the recommendations of the Parliamentary panel. The revised bill has been sent to the Law ministry for vetting. After we receive its comments, we will place the Bill before the Cabinet," Thomas said.
The Minister said the government would not withdraw the existing bill and rather move amendments to incorporate changes as suggested by the panel and some states.
"We have accepted panel's recommendation to do away with priority and general classifications of beneficiaries and provide uniform allocation of 5 kg foodgrains (per person) at fixed rates to 67-70 percent of the country's population," Thomas said.
The Minister said that 2.43 crore poorest of poor families under the Anthodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) would continue to get supply of 35 kg foodgrains per month per family.
According to sources, the Food ministry has revised the Bill after consultation with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who has strongly favoured higher allocation for AAY people.
The Food ministry is working closely with the Planning Commission to finalise the criteria for excluding 30-33 percent of population from the benefits of the Bill, he added.
"The Planning Commission's formula for exclusion of population will be given to the states. On that basis, states will be allowed to include or exclude beneficiaries," Thomas said, adding the Centre has taken into account the state governments' views in the revised Bill.
That apart, Thomas said the current entitlement given to the states under PDS would be protected.
This means states can supply more grains but the legal right would be given only on the quantity of grains mentioned in the Bill.
Total foodgrains requirement to implement the bill, once it becomes the law, would increase to 62-64 million tonne with continuation of AAY entitlements, while subsidy will shoot up by Rs 20,000 crore from the current Rs 1 lakh crore, he said.
After seeking Cabinet's approval, Food Ministry aims to present the revised Bill in the Budget session of Parliament and hopes to see its passage in the next session.