The Right to Food Campaign has questioned the hurry shown by the United Progressive Alliance government in taking the ordinance route on important legislation like the National Food Security Bill.

“Appalled” at the decision, the Campaign — a conglomeration of civil society groups — said the food security issue required deep and informed debate in Parliament. “To ensure collective responsibility in its implementation, the Bill needs to be passed in Parliament taking along all State governments and political parties.”

“Several parties including the CPI, the CPI (M), the BJD, the TMC and the AIADMK had moved amendments in the Lok Sabha and these need to be heard. Senior BJP leaders are learnt to have consented to the passage of the Bill in Parliament if it was brought for discussion. Most parties have given notice for amendments seeking universal coverage and opposing cut in entitlements from 7 to 5 kg per person per month. Parties with large farmer constituencies like the Samajwadi Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal are perturbed at the lack of attention to farmers’ issues. All these voices and concerns need to be heard and debated,” the Campaign said in a statement.

Pledging to oppose the Bill in its present form, the Campaign sought a comprehensive law.

According to the Campaign, the Bill does not specify a time frame for implementation, continues with targeted approach, cuts back on entitlements, concentrates on provision of cereals, makes way for contractors and commercial interests in supply of ICDS food, is ambiguous on maternal entitlements and lacks a strong grievance redress mechanism. It lacks steps to revive agriculture and provides for the backdoor entry of cash transfers in lieu of food grains.

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