The Prime Minister’s Expert Committee on the proposed National Food Security Bill has differed with the National Advisory Council not only on its recommendation for subsidised foodgrains entitlement for the non-poor population, but has also recommended that the identification of the poor beneficiaries for the proposed benefit be done by State governments and not by central agencies as suggested by Sonia Gandhi.

The panel, headed by C. Rangarajan, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, has upheld the view of the Union Home Ministry that conducting a socio-economic census along with the caste census — to be undertaken in June this year — will not only “delay’’ the caste census, but combining it with Below Poverty Line (BPL) enumeration “will attract interest groups which may impact the integrity of the census and caste enumeration.’’

“Caste enumeration is individual based while the other two (socio-economic and economic census) are individual, household and enterprise based. In view of this, caste enumeration be done as a stand-alone exercise,’’ the Home Ministry said.

The Rangarajan panel agreed and said that “the central government will indicate the percentage of the entitled population, while the actual identification of the beneficiaries [proposed under the food security] will be the responsibility of the States.’’

Ms. Gandhi as chairperson of the NAC had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggesting that the socio-economic census that will form the basis of the BPL survey, be conducted by the Registrar General of India and the Census Commissioner to do away with errors of inclusion and exclusion and to save resources.

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