Seeks comprehensive Food Security Bill

Right to Food Campaign activists on Thursday opposed an ordinance on the food security bill. They urged the government to conduct business in Parliament and ensure that all parties participated actively in debating, discussing and passing a comprehensive Food Security Bill. Questioning the government’s haste in taking the ordinance route, the campaign members said the monsoon session of Parliament was just a few weeks away and on an issue like food security, which affected millions of people, there should be an in-depth and informed debate in Parliament. Several important parties, including the CPI, CPI(M), BJD, Trinamool Congress and the AIADMK, had moved amendments to the revised Bill in the Lok Sabha and they needed to be heard.

“Most of these parties have placed amendments, asking for universal coverage [under the Public Distribution System] and opposing the reduction of entitlements from seven kg to five kg a month. The BJP would like to present provisions of the Chhattisgarh Food Security Bill, which is more progressive than the National Food Security Bill. Parties with large farmer constituencies like the Shiromani Akali Dal are perturbed at the lack of attention to farmers’ issues. All these voices need to be heard and all the issues raised need to be debated,” the activists said.

According to them, an ordinance on the lines of the revised Bill approved by the Cabinet would be extremely “inadequate” and make a “mockery” of food security.

No provision for community kitchen

“It provides extremely limited food entitlements, is piecemeal and is nowhere close to providing food security. It makes no provisions for the production of food or for support of small and marginal farmers who are food producers, but very food insecure and poor. It even undermines some of the entitlements ensured by the Supreme Court in the Right to Food case. It has no provisions for community kitchens and feeding of the most hunger-prone or to deal with starvation deaths.”

Campaigning for a comprehensive food bill, the activists said the Bill moved in Parliament did not specify a time frame for rolling out the scheme, remained targeted, cut back on grains entitlements, did nothing to contain malnutrition, allowed for private contractors and commercial interests in the supply of food in the Integrated Child Development Scheme, was ambiguous regarding maternal entitlements and did not have a strong grievance redress mechanism.

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