NAC debates food security; differences persist on procurement

NAC, headed by Sonia Gandhi, continued to grapple with differing views on food security plan.

New Delhi: The National Advisory Council
(NAC), headed by Sonia Gandhi, on Friday continued to grapple with
differing views on the quantum of foodgrains that need to be
procured to support the food security plan for poor.

The fifth meeting of the NAC today saw presentations made
by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia,
and top government officials dealing with food security and
child welfare.
Ahluwalia offered to step up gradually the procurement of
foodgrains to about 70 million tonnes to meet the requirements
desired by the Council. A section of the NAC wanted the
procurement target to be raised substantially at the earliest.

"There is still no consensus on the issue of procurement
of foodgrains," a NAC member said.

The total foodgrain production (rice and wheat) in the
country ranges between 170-180 million tonnes of which the
government procures 53-58 million tonnes annually to meet the
requirements of its various schemes.

Kiran Dhingra, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban
Poverty Alleviation, who made a presentation before the NAC,
is understood to have favoured a wait and watch approach till
the S R Hashim Committee submits its report on methodology to
identify urban poor.

Another opinion was charging of differential rates for
foodgrains for BPL and Above Poverty Line (APL) families. A
suggestion was made that the APL category could be charged 50
per cent of the minimum support price for foodgrains as
against Rs three per kg for BPL families.

There was also discussion on community kitchens for
migrant workers and a suggestion was made to handover the
running of such facilities to NGOs.

A statement issued after the meeting said that Ahluwalia,
Dhingra, Alka Sirohi, Secretary Food and Public Distribution
and D K Sikri, Secretary Women and Child Development made
presentations on the views of their respective departments.
"The Working Group took note of the issues which emerged
from the discussion. A further round of discussions is to take
place before the proposal of the Working Group could be
finalised," it said.

The next meeting of NAC is scheduled to be held on
October 23.


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