A rally organised jointly by the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) here on Thursday highlighted the issues of food security and price rise.

The rally began from the Town Hall and ended in front of the Head Post Office in Pandeshwara, where a demonstration was held. Many protesters courted arrest.

District secretary of the CPI(M) B. Madhava said the universal public distribution system (PDS), which existed before liberalisation, should be restored.

The targeted PDS, based on a faulty assessment to identify people living below the poverty line, was depriving most of the poor of food security. While the Government estimation was that only 6.5 crore people were living below the poverty line (BPL), the Justice Wadhwa Committee appointed by the Government had estimated that 20 crore families were poor in the country.

Mr. Madhava said the proposed Food Security Bill sought to provide 25 kg of foodgrains at Rs. 3 a kg and abolish the Antyodaya scheme, under which the poor were getting 35 kg of foodgrains at Rs. 2 a kg. It should be amended to extend the Antyodaya scheme to every family, irrespective of their economic condition, he said.

He demanded enactment of urban employment guarantee legislation with equal wages and rights for women, removal of the existing ban on recruitment, and end to retrenchment of workers in the name of recession. He also demanded land rights for the poor. The Government should amend the Land Acquisition Act, 1984 to minimise displacement and adequately compensate land-losers. Excess land should be distributed among the poor in this country, he stated.

Demonstration

Udupi Staff Correspondent reports:

Members of the Udupi district units of Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India staged a demonstration outside the Head Post Office and later courted arrest on Thursday, protesting against increasing prices of essential commodities.

Secretary of the Udupi taluk unit of CPI (M) P. Vishwanath Rai said that the Union Government had itself admitted that the prices of essential commodities had increased by about 20 per cent.

The implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act had left a lot to be desired,he said.

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