Patna: With Food Security Bill expected to be come up in Parliament in the coming Budget session, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday demanded that the Centre should bear the entire cost of the scheme and set up an independent BPL commission to identify genuine beneficiaries.
"National Food Security Bill is a central legislation which has been proposed pursuant to the central government`s own planning and policy.
"Therefore, it is the Centre who should bear the entire cost of the proposed paradigm shift in addressing the problem of food security from the current welfare approach to a right-based approach," Kumar said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"When the GoI bears the entire expenditure related to Targeted Public Distribution System, why then substantial financial burden of enlarged entitlements and its implementation is being thrust upon the state unilaterally in the proposed legislation?" he asked.
A copy of the letter has also been sent to Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Union Food minister K V Thomas.
The Food Bill, a pet project of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and considered a `game changer` for UPA in the 2014 general elections is expected to come up in Parliament in the budget session starting February 18.
The legislation, which provides 75 per cent coverage of PDS in rural areas, is billed as the world`s greatest experiment in providing food security to the poor. It was sent to the select committee immediately after being introduced in Lok Sabha in 2010 winter session.
Kumar, however, expressed happiness that the Standing Committee on Food and Consumer Affairs took cognisance of some major concerns raised by the state government.
In the letter, the CM said the committee noted that the department did not consult the Finance Commission regarding the additional expenditure to be borne by the states on account of implementation of National Food Security Bill.