New Delhi: The National Advisory Council,
headed by Sonia Gandhi, today recommended foodgrain
entitlement to all families in the 50 most disadvantaged
districts or blocks from April next year and draft a fresh law
to check communal violence.
"While time-bound universalisation of foodgrain
entitlements across the country may be desirable, initial
universalisation in one-fourth of the most disadvantaged
districts or blocks in the first year is recommended, where
every household is entitled to receive 35 kgs per month of
foodgrains at Rs 3 a kg," NAC said in a statement after a
day-long meeting chaired by Gandhi.
There are an estimated 200 districts and blocks which
have been identified as most disadvantaged areas in the
country having a concentration of the poor.
The Council made it clear that in the remaining districts
or blocks universal PDS will be extended with differentiated
entitlements in terms of quantity and issue price.
It would progressively be expanded to all rural areas in
the country over a reasonable period of time, it said.
The meeting also discussed the Communal Violence Bill
which is at present in the Rajya Sabha and felt that it does
not fulfil the objectives and cannot accommodate the features
essential to achieve them.
It was agreed that there was a need to draft a fresh law
on the subject that would reflect the letter and spirit of the
objectives for which the Council`s working groups will consult
with legal experts.
Some of the features in the current Bill included
widening the scope of the law to include sectarian violence,
definitions of new crimes, setting up of National Authority,
ensuring greater accountability of public authorities,
stipulation of national norms from rescue to restitution,
specifying compensation norms and ensuring victim-witness
Sources said the idea was to set up a national authority
to oversee actions taken by states to tackle communal
An initial agreement was reached in the Council that
certain households in urban areas, including slum-dwellers and
the homeless, will be entitled to 35 kg per month at Rs 3 a
The eligible households are to be identified by criteria
developed by the Planning Commission.
The NAC also favoured comprehensive nutrition support
schemes for infants, pre-school children, school children,
welfare hostel students, adolescent girls, pregnant women,
street-children, homeless, the aged and infirm.
These would also be extended to the differently-abled,
those living with leprosy, TB and HIV/AIDS.
It also favoured establishing community kitchens and
destitute feeding throughout the entire country.
The NAC also decided that the Working Group on Food
Security will undertake further work on measures for enhancing
agriculture production, PDS and procurement reforms, ICDS
reforms and maternity benefits, community kitchens and
It would look at systems of oversight, transparency,
accountability and grievance redressal.