Mani Shanker Aiyar expresses displeasure over Food Bill in present form
New Delhi: Congress leader Mani Shanker Aiyar on Monday expressed strong displeasure over the present form of Food Security Bill, saying the proposed legislation ignores the role of panchayats in Public Distribution System (PDS) and relies more on bureaucracy.
Participating in the debate on the Bill in Rajya Sabha, Aiyar said the Constitution in its eleventh schedule provides that PDS should be brought under the Panchayati Raj System.
He said PDS has been successful only in states where local bodies are prominently involved.
Aiyar said he had written to Food Minister KV Thomas and had even met him on the issue but despite his assurances, the role of local bodies is not clearly defined.
Regretting that "not one comma has been changed" despite his efforts, Aiyar asked Thomas to utilise the opportunity, when the bill was being discussed, to consider provisions which will recognise the role of panchayats and municipalities.
He said civil supplies departments have become "dens of corruption" and involving panchayats is the solution.
He said "continued dependence on bureaucracy" could not give an answer and added that he was saying it as a former bureaucrat himself.
Aiyar said leaving implementation of the PDS under food security to bureaucrats is not desirable.
"However gargantuan the task of procuring, storing, transporting, delivering, if at the last mile there is a bureaucrat responsible and not an elected representative - there is no hope at all," he said.
The views of the Congress leader were often welcomed by opposition members by thumping of desks.
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