Middlemen may disrupt benefits of Food Security Bill: Sharad Yadav

JD(U) chiefSharad Yadav told the Lok Sabha that though the Food Security Bill is a bold step by the Centre, the scheme would not be easy to implement because of middlemen and corruption, which is deep rooted in the country.

New Delhi: Janata Dal (United) chiefSharad Yadav told the Lok Sabha on Monday that though the Food Security Bill is a bold step by the Centre, the scheme would not be easy to implement because of middlemen and corruption, which is deep rooted in the country.

"The beneficiaries of the schemes hardly get any benefits because of the middlemen and rampant corruption. ...It is hunger and dignity that affect the poor the most in the country," Yadav said.

Yadav also commented on the financial aspect of the scheme and said told the House that he had doubts if it could be properly implement without active financial assistance from the Centre.

"This is a national scheme by the Centre. The Centre must bear the cost. Only in Bihar, Rs 1,500 crore will be needed on the first day only to augment godown facilities in the state. Rs 600 crore will be needed to increase the number of Public Distribution System shops. Another Rs 400 crore will be required for the door-to-door delivery system," Yadav said.

"Where will the states get the money from for the 50:50 rationalisation of cost to implement the computerisation of the system? ...There is no mention about the commission that the PDS shops will get," he added.

Yadav suggested that the minimum support price should be revised every few years, as inflation of key commodities including diesel will rise.

"The minimum support price must be revised every three years for the farmers. Will the price of diesel not increase in three years?" Yadav asked.

The JD(U) chief also expressed concerns over the bill`s prescribed safeguards to farmers, at a time when farmer suicides have drastically appreciated in the country.

Earlier today, Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi highlighted the potential of the Food Security Bill before the Lok Sabha, saying that the House has an opportunity to clear a welfare scheme that would provide subsidized food to nearly 70 percent of India.

We have a chance to create history with this bill. So, my humble appeal is that we, as representatives of people, must make this Bill into an Act," she told members of the Lok Sabha.

Stating that a clear message is being sent out today that India is taking care of providing food to all of its citizens, Gandhi said: "We are ensuring that no child will be malnourished. It`s an opportunity that we are providing food security to all. It will also ensure a stop to food grain wastage."

Earlier, initiating the debate on the UPA government`s landmark Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha, Food Minister KV Thomas said the bill would ensure more transparency and accountability in the PDS system.

Food Security Bill ensures more transparency and accountability in the PDS system, Thomas said, adding, that the number of persons to be covered by the Food Security Bill will be based on the 2011 census.

"This bill will also enhance accountability and transparency. In the current PDS system, there is at least 20-30 percent leakage which leads to black marketing. We have made provisions for the setting up of vigilance committees that will monitor the distribution of supplies and make sure the right people get them," he said.

"We have also put in a clause by which a government servant will be punished if he/she found to be involved in squandering of the supply or if the distribution is not done properly," he added.

The National Food Security Bill is a historic initiative for ensuring food and nutritional security to the people. It gives a right to the people to receive adequate quantity of foodgrains at affordable prices.

The Bill has a special focus on nutritional support to the poorest of the poor , women and children.

In case of non-supply of foodgrains, the deprived will get a food security allowance. The Bill also provides for grievance redressal mechanism and penalty for non -compliance by a public servant or authority. Under the plan, the government will sell subsidised wheat and rice to 67 percent of its 1.2 billion population.