Cabinet clears Ordinance to implement Food Security Bill



New Delhi: Brushing aside political opposition, the Government on Wednesday decided to issue an ordinance to give nation's two-third population the right to get 5 kgs of foodgrains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs 1-3 per kg.

The Food Security programme when implemented will be the biggest in the world with the government spending estimated at Rs 125,000 crore annually on supply of about 62 million tonnes of rice, wheat and coarse cereals to 67 per cent of the population.

The Cabinet, which had last month deferred a decision on the issue following differences within, approved promulgation of an ordinance to implement the Food Security Bill.

"The Food Security Ordinance was unanimously approved by the Cabinet. It will now go to the Rashtrapati Bhavan for its assent," Food Minister KV Thomas told reporters here.

The Ordinance is being promulgated just weeks before the scheduled Monsoon session of Parliament and there has been intense opposition from political parties which want the Bill to be debated in Parliament before being passed.

Left parties attacked the government for taking the ordinance route saying the UPA-II has shown contempt for Parliament while BJP termed it an "election gimmick" saying Congress was running away from a debate in the House.

Samajwadi Party, a key outside supporter of UPA, also sharply opposed promulgation of the ordinance saying it was undemocratic and the programme would derail the food economy.

The Ordinance will have to be approved by both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha within six months of promulgation.

The Ordinance, which will guarantee 5 kg of rice, wheat and coarse cereals per month per person at a fixed price of Rs 3, 2, 1, respectively, will come into effect after President Pranab Mukherjee signs it.

However, about 2.43 crore poorest of the poor families covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme under PDS (Public Distribution System) would continue to get 35 kg of foodgrains per family per month but with legal entitlement.

PTI