Food Security Bill replete with confusion: Jaya

Strongly opposing the draft National Food Security Bill, Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa said it was replete with "confusion and inaccuracy".

Chennai: Strongly opposing the draft National
Food Security Bill, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa
on Tuesday said it was replete with "confusion and inaccuracy" and
asked the Centre not to attempt encroaching into the domains
of states.

In a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, she said the Central government "should not attempt or
be seen to attempt encroaching into the domains of the states"
and sought exemption of Tamil Nadu from the purview of the
proposed measure.

"In a Federal structure like ours where the states are in
close and direct contact with the people, the choice of
designing and implementing popular welfare schemes is at best
left to the states," Jayalalithaa said responding to the
Centre seeking the state`s views on the measure.

Noting that the provisions of the bill contemplated
achieving food security through Targeted Public Distribution
System (TPDS), the chief minister said "forced implementation
of TPDS" would entail an additional financial burden of about
Rs 1,800 crore per annum with no statutory commitment
forthcoming from the Centre.

"Like the BPL norms proposed by the Union Planning
Commission, the categorisation of households and arbitrary
restriction of coverage as contained in the Central Bill will
lead to controversy and make a mockery of providing food
security," she said.

Jayalalithaa said the proposed classification of target
groups into Priority House Holds (PHH) and General House Holds
(GHH) for the purpose of delivery of food entitlements would
"surely invite sharp criticisms and furious opposition from
everybody concerned".

Noting that the very basis of such classification was
"unscientific and unacceptable", she said no reason had been
adduced for restricting the coverage under TDPS to 75 per cent
of the rural population and 50 per cent of urban population.

Asserting that her government has been successfully
implementing the Universal Public Distribution System (UPDS)
for the last several years, she said through this initiative,
it has been able to address the issue of food security for all
without any exception.

In addition, she said, the state government has ordered
the supply of rice free of cost to all under the UPDS and said
it was well received by the public.

Under UPDS, rice, wheat, sugar and other commodities like
toor dal, urad dal, fortified palmolien and atta, were
supplied to the public at heavily subsidised prices through
32,977 fair price shops, she said, adding that the annual food
subsidy was to the tune of Rs 5,000 Crore.

"I would like to register my strong opposition to the
Draft National Food Security Bill 2011," the chief minister
said requesting the Centre to not only continue to supply
foodgrains to the state at existing price, allowing the same
pattern and also restore the monthly allotment of kerosene.


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