Activists of Right to Food Campaign, Karnataka, will gather in front of the office of Food and Civil Supplies Department on Cunningham Road here on September 23 to voice their ire against the draft National Food Security Bill.

The draft Bill, prepared by the Union Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies, came under fire from the activists on Wednesday. The activists opposed the proposal to pay food security allowance in cash in lieu of foodgrains.

Speaking to presspersons here, K. Sudha, State convenor of the campaign, said that the Union Government was considering ending the public distribution system (PDS) and paying cash in lieu of foodgrains.

“This would not benefit the poor,” she said.

The campaign demands the inclusion of all citizens under the PDS.

The Lokayukta-appointed special investigation officer R. Balasubramaniam said that in Karnataka, there is a leakage of Rs. 840 crore per year in the PDS.

The corporate sector has been provided a tax exemption of Rs. 5 lakh crore.

Even one-fifth of this amount is sufficient to extend PDS facility to citizens irrespective their income criteria,” she said. According to the recommendations of the Planning Commission (2004-05), persons whose daily income is less than Rs. 15 in rural areas and Rs. 20 in urban areas are identified as living below poverty line.

“The Bill says that only 7 kg foodgrains per head will be given to priority households and 3 kg for the general category. The campaign rejects this unnatural classification of citizens, while seeking universalisation of PDS,” she said.

Demands

The other demands include protection of agricultural land and encouragement to farmers; minimum support price for all food crops produced by farmers; local procurement, storage and distribution of foodgrains in every taluk; government taking responsibility of providing water, PDS, anganwadi and school midday meal instead of outsourcing them.


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