It’s doubtful whether any of 200 amendments sought by parties is accepted

The government will not move any amendment to the Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha. It is also doubtful if it will accept any of the nearly 200 amendments for which various political parties had given notices.

Highly placed sources told The Hindu that it was too late to accept any amendment to the Bill at this stage. Any amendment, such as to go in for community kitchens for homeless, destitute and migrants will not only entail more rains but also additional subsidy, for which the entire process of consultations and approvals will have to be undergone.

Moreover, the Bill will then have to be again referred to the Cabinet for approval and this may delay the implementation further. The government, it may be recalled, has given six months to the States to complete the process of identification of beneficiaries and start implementation of the Bill. The rights-based legislation provides for 67 per cent of population availing itself of 5 kg of subsidised wheat or rice or coarse cereals every month.

On Congress president Sonia Gandhi referring a few shortcomings — as pointed out to her by Right to Food Campaign activists — to the Food Ministry for amendments, the sources said the entire exercise had been gone through by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which had rejected those proposals. If necessary, changes could be made at a later stage after the Bill was passed, Ms. Gandhi was explained, and she seems to have accepted the position.

The major changes relate to a universal PDS, raising the per person entitlement from 5 to 7 kg a month, evolving common guidelines for identification of beneficiaries, inclusion of pulses and cooking oil in the entitlement, protection of current allocation of grains and running of community kitchens for the homeless and destitute persons.

Several parties want omission of the provision for introduction of cash transfers or food coupons in lieu of PDS grains.

Keywords: Food Bill

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