Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised that “nobody will go hungry” in the country, the Centre is asking the States to put a ceiling on the number of Below Poverty Line (BPL) beneficiaries under the Targeted Public Distribution System for the purpose of the National Food Security Bill that is in the making.

The Union government wants to limit the “targeted” BPL beneficiaries to 5.91 crore as per 2009 population estimates, instead of the present 6.52 crore. The majority of the States have disputed the Centre’s poverty estimates and demanded “food for all” under the Bill.

Against the allocation of foodgrains to 6.52 crore BPL families, the BPL cards issued by the States are 11.03 crore. They also do not want the present monthly entitlement of 35 kg subsidised foodgrains per BPL cardholder reduced.

The Congress, in its election manifesto, had promised to give, by law, every BPL family 25 kg of wheat or rice a month at Rs. 3 a kg. However, it seems that not only is the entitlement likely to get truncated but even the number of beneficiaries is going to be reduced.

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