Members of the civil society organisations and academia on Wednesday welcomed the amendments proposed for the removal of the clause in Schedule II of the Food Security Bill, which insists that 50 per cent of food fortified with micro-nutrients should be provided in the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Midday Meals (MDM) scheme
However, they demanded the introduction of a clause in the proposed Act that the centralised industrial production of food in ICDS and MDM through the entry of private contractors or any entrepreneur, commercial enterprise or company not owned or funded or aided by Government shall not be allowed.
A statement issued by 10 non-governmental organisations working on child rights and 14 academic after a joint meeting here said food distributed in ICDS and MDM should be locally cooked, produced and processed on a decentralised level in a block or below that level, through community participation.
Examples of Kerala, Orissa and Chhattisgarh have shown that it is possible to provide nutritious Take Home Rations in a decentralised, viable and sustainable manner by Self Help Groups (SHG)/ federations of SHGs with a variety of menus and models, the statement said.
"Ensure that safety and hygiene norms for storage, cooking, and distribution are overseen by the Urban Local Bodies and the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI). Necessary infrastructure in this regard should be envisaged and provided for,’’ the statement said, adding the food required for the implementation of the Food Security Bill should be produced domestically using non-Genetically Modified (GM) crops. Necessary incentives should be provided to the farmers for increasing domestic production including decentralised procurement at remunerative prices.
The signatories to the statement include Mira Shiva, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society and Diverse Women for Diversity; Rajib Dasgupta, Associate Professor, Jawaharal Nehru University; Alex George, Knowledge Hub Leader, Child Rights, ActionAid; Radha Holla Bhar, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India; Deepa Sinha, Right to Food Campaign; PK Jai Somanathan, Member, National Executive Council, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi; Parul Gupta, Right to Education Forum; Oommen C Kurian, ActionAid; and Sameet Kumar Panda, ActionAid.
The individuals who have associated themselves with the statement include Veena Shatrughna, former Deputy Director, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad: V.R Muraleedharan, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, Chennai; K. K Krishna Kumar, National President, BGVS, Thiruvanthapuram; Ravi Duggal, Independent Researcher, Anusandhan Trust, Mumbai; Sehjo Singh, Director, Programme & Policy, ActionAid, New Delhi; Dhruv Mankad, Vachan, Nasik; Ambarish Rai, Convenor, Right to Education Forum; Annie Namala, Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion; Asha Mishra, General Secretary, BGVS; Arun Gupta, International Breastfeeding Promotion Network; J. P Dadhich, Breastfeeding Promotion Network India (BPNI); Mridula Bajaj, Mobile Creches; J John, Centre for Education & Communication; and Sudatta Khuntia, Knowledge Hub, Child Rights, Bhubaneshwar.