The UPA Government ought to feel “ashamed” to assume that poverty that could not be eradicated through spending of several thousands of crores of rupees in successive five-year plans could be addressed through the Food Security Bill, according to A. Ganeshamurthi, Lok Sabha MP representing Erode constituency.
Mr. Ganeshamurthi, who is also Member, Consultative Committee on the Ministry of Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, said while making his stand known during the debate in Parliament for passage of the Food Security Bill that the Central Government’s proposed methodology of identifying beneficiaries on the basis of the population in each State was impractical and tantamount to infringing on the rights of the State Governments.
At a time when the Centre was yet to complete census on the basis of socio-economic conditions of the people and was yet to announce the parameters for determining poverty line, it was impossible for the State governments to select the beneficiaries in six months time.
Instead, the Central Government could have replicated the Public Distribution System in vogue in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
In Tamil Nadu a family card holder categorised BPL was entitled to 20 kg of free rice, and in many other States food grains was being provided at Rs. 2 a kg.
The Food Security Bill would cause sufferings to the poor people since they would be required to pay Rs. 3 per kg.
Fifty per cent of the family card holders in rural areas and 25 per cent in urban parts would stand to lose the existing privileges, he said.
Mr. Ganeshamurthy drew the Central Government’s attention to the audit report on Food Corporation of India that proper attention must be accorded for preventing loss of procured wheat before enacting the Food Security Bill. Devising laws to provide price protection for the produce of farmers would constitute real food security, he said.