The Dakshina Kannada district unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has sought a scientific public distribution system (PDS) aimed at achieving food security for all.

B. Madhava, secretary of the party's district unit, told presspersons here on Saturday that the existing PDS, with the target group being identified on the unscientific below the poverty line (BPL) concept, benefited only a few.

The Supreme Court-appointed Justice D.P. Wadhwa Committee on the PDS had estimated that about 20 crore families in the country were poor. Mr. Madhava said that the country's population was 30 crore and by that standard, he said about 66 per cent of the population was poor. However, only 26 per cent of the population had been identified as living below the poverty line.

The Centre had washed its hands of the responsibility of bringing down prices. While President Pratibha Patil had admitted that her Government could hardly do anything about it, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had predicted that the inflation rate might soon touch double digits, Mr. Madhava said. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had promised to supply rice at Rs. 2 a kg in its manifesto for the May 2008 Assembly elections, had failed to implement it. He demanded that all the poor be provided 35 kg of subsidised foodgrains a month at Rs. 2 a kg.

Stating that this would be a major demand of his party during the proposed rally and jail bharo (courting arrest) agitation here on April 8, he said the Government would be urged to abolish the existing PDS by delinking it from the “bogus” estimates of poverty and guaranteeing subsidised and universal PDS through legislation.

The party would demand urban employment guarantee legislation for ensuring equal wages and rights for women, removal of the ban on recruitment, and an end to retrenchment of workers in the name of recession. The Government was yet to redistribute land acquired under the Bhoodan movement headed by the late Vinoba Bhave. The Land Acquisition Act, 1984 should be amended suitably to minimise displacement and ensure adequate compensation to land-losers.

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