The National Advisory Council (NAC) on Thursday debated universal entitlement of foodgrains under the government’s ambitious Food Security Bill, with a special focus on reaching out to the poorest of the poor.
The Council, headed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, also asked the working group on National Food Security Bill to hold consultations with all stakeholders and submit their recommendations in the next meeting.
The Bill seeks to provide legal right to poor to get rice or wheat at Rs 3 per kg. A panel of Ministers had favoured that every household would be entitled to 25 kg of foodgrains every month, a suggestion that drew widespread criticism.
Critics of the bill have been demanding universal entitlement by ensuring coverage of every adult under the public distribution system. They contended that under the scheme for BPL families, every household was entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains.
M.S. Swaminathan and Harsh Mander made presentations before the Council highlighting the need for moving for universal entitlement under the National Food Security Act.
They also focussed on making efforts towards increasing overall availability of foodgrains through stepping up agriculture output and procuring more foodgrains.
The working group on the bill had held discussions with senior officials of the Departments of Food and Public Distribution, School Education and Planning Commission to discuss in depth the scope of the proposed Bill, the entitlements to be provided, the target group and the implementation issues.
“The NAC members also met with the Right to Food Campaign group to take input from civil society groups working on food and nutrition security,” a statement issued by the NAC said.
Besides, the meeting also deliberated on the much-delayed Communal Violence Bill. A working group on the subject had held consultations with senior officials of Home Ministry, of Department of Legislative Affairs, and representatives of anti-communal violence groups.
A sub-group on procedures also met to chart out ways and means to be adopted for consultations with various ministries as also for drawing up the agenda for the Council meetings.
The 14-member NAC, headed by Ms. Gandhi, was constituted on June 1 and is expected to advise the government on various social programmes like food security and rural development.
Ms. Gandhi also launched the website of the Council.