The Centre proposes to move at least 250 amendments to the National Food Security Bill when it is tabled in Parliament during the current Budget session.
The Bill, which seeks to give subsidised foodgrains to identified beneficiaries, will take into consideration the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food.
Disclosing this, Right to Food activists said that during their meeting with the Minister of State for Food K.V. Thomas, they were given the assurance that the 2.5 crore Antyodaya Anna Yojana beneficiaries will continue to get 35 kg of concessional foodgrains.
“Rejecting” the Bill as “piecemeal, diluted and minimalist,” activists Kavita Srivastava, Deepa Sinha and Ashok Khandelwal said if the government was serious regarding food security it should make it “universal” and widen the coverage.
The activists are spearheading a week-long dharna (Pension Parishad) at Jantar Mantar here, to lodge their protest against the Food Security Bill as it stands today.
Quoting from the Chhattisgarh Food Bill, Ms. Srivastava asked, “If one State can cover 90 per cent of its population, why can’t the Centre do it?”
‘Want it to be reworked’
“We want the Bill to be re-worked to guarantee foodgrains, oil and pulses under the Public Distribution System. It must be linked to foodgrains production, decentralised procurement of foodgrains, and guarantee the nutrition security of farmers, women, children, the elderly, persons with disability, the aged, the infirm and single women.
It should have a mechanism that provides for an independent and decentralised grievance redress and public vigilance system.”
Ms. Sinha said the Standing Committee’s recommendations undermine the food rights of children and pregnant and lactating women by failing to guarantee Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) provided through anganwadi centres.
The activists said the reduction in entitlement from 7 kg per person conceived in the government Bill to 5 kg suggested by the Parliamentary panel was “unacceptable.”
It is only half of what is required on an average in a month as per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) norms.
Keywords: food security Bill