The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will move “concrete” amendments to the Food Security Bill in Parliament to make the scheme universal with a minimum entitlement of 35 kg of foodgrains at a maximum price of Rs. 2 a kg (rice and wheat), and for deletion of all centralising clauses.
The Food Security ordinance “legalises the targeted system by automatically excluding 50 per cent of urban population and 25 per cent of rural population from its ambit at a time when in many States the coverage of the population is near universal.” The 35-kg entitlement to BPL families would now be cut down to just 25 kg for a five-member family and further if the family was smaller. “This is a punishment for a State like Kerala, where the family size may be three or four and therefore the entitlement will be only 15 to 20 kg,” said a statement issued after a Polit Bureau meeting here on Saturday.
The minimum allotment should be 35 kg and it should be increased if there were more members. But the government preferred to cut down on the existing entitlements. “This is food insecurity not security,” the CPI(M) said.
Describing the Bill as “highly centralised” that gave the Centre all powers and the States all responsibilities including financial, the Polit Bureau said, “The ordinance ordains that the entire process of identification of beneficiaries according to guidelines yet to be issued by the Central government has to be completed within 180 days. This has been done without any consultation with the States.”
The Centre should make consultations with States on all issues of cost-sharing mandatory. The party would also seek deletion of the clauses on cash transfers and linkages with Aadhaar.
The party said the ordinance gave the Centre the right to introduce in the rules cash schemes, instead of food, as and when it decided and to impose its “anti-people scheme” even if the State governments opposed it.
Reliance on FDI
Criticising the deteriorating economic situation in the country, the Polit Bureau said the UPA government was bent upon increasing reliance on foreign capital as was shown by the recent announcement to raise the FDI level in various sectors.
“The decision to double the price of natural gas from April 2014 is a blatant move to enrich the Reliance company. This price increase should be rescinded.”
The Polit Bureau condemned the repeated increase in petrol price. In the last six weeks, it had been increased four times totalling Rs. 6.50 a litre. This only fuelled price rise further, it said.