NAC unveils 1st part of draft food bill

Firm on its stand, Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) Friday unveiled the first part of the draft food bill that seeks to provide legal food entitlements to 75 per cent households.

New Delhi: Firm on its stand, Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) Friday unveiled the first part of the draft food bill that seeks to provide legal food entitlements to 75 per cent households.
     
An expert group appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had rejected the NAC recommendations which were first made on October 23 contending that it would not be possible in view of the current availability of foodgrains.
     
NAC members said that the recommendations of the expert group headed by PM's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan have not been received by them yet.
     
"There is no formal reference from the PMO or from the Rangarajan Committee," a member said, adding that the NAC did deliberate on the recommendations which had appeared in the media.
     
"We are not in the business of reacting to the Rangarajan Committee. The NAC recommendations on food security are in the public domain and we have invited suggestions on it. Let there be a debate on identifying the best way forward," the member said.
     
The NAC draft recommends providing 35 kg foodgrains -- rice, wheat, millets -- at Rs 3, Rs 2 and Re 1 per kg for 'priority group'. This group covers 46 per cent households in rural areas and 28 per cent in urban areas.
     
Besides, it also recommends 20 kg foodgrains at half the price of the minimum support price for the 'General category', which covers 44 per cent households in rural areas and 22 per cent in urban areas.
     
The NAC wanted the Centre to specify the criteria for categorization of population into "priority" and "general" households.
     
The NAC also decided to recommend to the Rural Development Ministry on granting highest priority to inclusion of SC/ST families in the list of Below Poverty Line households being planned by it.
     
In October last, the panel chaired by Gandhi had drawn up ambitious plans to make differential legal entitlement of foodgrains to 75 per cent households covering rural and urban areas.
     
As per the recommendations, 90 per cent of the rural areas and 50 per cent of the urban parts are proposed to be covered under the draft food security law.
     
The NAC had sent its recommendations to the government on October 27 following which the Prime Minister had asked Rangarajan to examine the proposals.
     
Another member said that estimates of the NAC on foodgrain procurement were "more realistic" as it had consulted the Planning Commission and the Food Ministry before finalising its recommendations.
     
Going by NAC proposal, the foodgrain requirement would be 74 million tonnes upon completion of final phase in 2014, while the total foodgrain availability with the government in 2011-12 and 2013-14 is likely to be 56.35 million tonnes and 57.61 million tonnes, respectively, based on the current production and procurement trends.

PTI

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