New Delhi: Going one step ahead in making one of its most ambitious welfare schemes a reality, the UPA government will table the Food Security Bill the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
A brainchild of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC), the National Food Security Bill 2011 aims to make provision of food support to people facing hunger a duty of the state. The legislation promises certain quantity of food grains to Below Poverty Line families.
However, there appears to be a major divide between the NAC and the government over various provisions of the Bill, with the advisory body holding the opinion that the government’s version is much diluted.
The NAC wanted the bill to guarantee subsidised foodgrains to at least 90 percent of rural households but the government has brought it down to 50 percent, saying that it wants to keep the bill targeted.
Also, the NAC had suggested four kilograms of foodgrain per person each month; the government has reduced it to three kilograms.
The draft bill follows a life cycle approach and introduces a number of other universal guarantees, including nutrition support and maternity entitlements for pregnant women, nutrition support to children both in pre-school centres and in school, but also to all out of school children; destitute feeding and affordable meals for homeless and other needy urban populations; and special guarantees for starvation and emergencies.
It creates also a strong accountability framework for protection of these entitlements and allows imposition of fines on defaulters and compensation to the victim.
It also envisages a strong grievance redress and monitoring system, from the centre to the block level.