An Empowered Group of Ministers is scheduled to meet again on April 5 to discuss certain aspects in the draft Food Security Bill it had cleared last month.

The EGoM on food, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, is meeting on Monday to discuss the draft Food Security Bill, official sources said, adding that the Finance Ministry has sought some clarifications, including adjudication of complaints.

A poor person can file complaint if he did not receive foodgrain under the National Food Security Bill that promises to provide 25 kg of rice or wheat per month to each family below poverty line (BPL) at Rs 3 per kg.

After the meeting on March 18, Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had said that the panel had cleared the draft bill and it would be taken to the Cabinet for approval.

The Minister had also said that the number of BPL population to be covered under the Act would be on the basis of Planning Commission’s estimate. Currently, 6.52 crore families are covered under the public distribution system (PDS), which may go up to 8.14 crore if Planning Commission approves Tendulkar Committee formula.

A Committee under the Chairmanship of Suresh Tendulkar was set up by the Prime Minister to arrive at a comprehensive methodology to estimate poverty in the country. The Committee submitted its report in December last year.

A top Food Ministry official said that the Law Ministry is finalising the draft bill. After the Cabinet approval, it would be put up for public comment.

One of the important feature in the bill is to check the loopholes in the public distribution system as it suggested that the there should be computerisation and door-step delivery system to ensure food security.

The official said that BPL population would continue to get 35 kg of rice or wheat through ration shops, but they would have a right over 25 kg of foodgrain under the new law.

The government is unlikely to specify the price at which it would offer foodgrain to BPL families as official said “mentioning Rs 3 a kg would be difficult to change if required in future without Parliament approval“.

The government might also provide money as a security to BPL families in case of an emergency situation, like flood, where it is difficult to transport foodgrain.

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