Oppn blocks adoption of draft report on Food Bill

Opposition parties led by BJP on Friday blocked adoption of a draft report of a Parliamentary Panel on the Food Bill.

Updated: Jan 11, 2013, 20:14 PM IST

New Delhi: Opposition parties led by BJP on Friday blocked adoption of a draft report of a Parliamentary Panel on the Food Bill because of differences on issues like coverage of poor people and quantity of grains to be supplied.

In the final meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee held today, sources said out of 31 members, about 18 members from Opposition parties like BJP, BSP, AIADMK and Shiv Sena raised objections on various clauses of the draft report.

Keeping in the view the wide-spread opposition, sources said the panel`s Chairman Vilasrao Muttemwar asked the members to give their reservation in writing in the next two days as the committee wants to submit the report to Speaker next week.

Sources said the Committee is likely to recommend giving legal right over subsidised foodgrains to 67 per cent of the country`s population, which in line with the government`s bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011.

The panel would also suggest the Centre to give freedom to state governments to identify the number of beneficiaries.

However, the consensus is yet to be arrived on the quantity of foodgrains to be supplied to beneficiaries. The proposed bill aims to supply 7 kg of foodgrains per person each month to priority households and 3 kg to general households.

Sources said some members demanded that entitlement over subsidised grains should be on the basis of each family instead to an individual as this will benefit large families.

The ambitious bill, which is the pet project of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, aims to give wheat and rice at Rs 2-3 per kg to priority households, while at 50 per cent of the minimum support (MSP) price to general households.

Sources further said some members sought higher allocation of foodgrains under the bill, while the Left parties were against the transfer of cash subsidy.

Under the proposed law, which was promised by the Congress Party in 2009 general election, up to 75 per cent of the rural population and up to 50 per cent of the urban population would be covered.