Union Minister of State for Food K.V. Thomas on Saturday met Congress president and National Advisory Council (NAC) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and apprised her of the progress made in the proposed National Food Security Bill.
This was the first meeting Mr. Thomas had with Ms. Gandhi since her return after a surgery abroad.
“The Minister briefed her about the progress made in the proposed Bill, which has been posted on the Ministry's website for comments. He informed her that the Bill had been circulated to Chief Ministers for their comments,'' informed sources said.
The Ministry recently extended the date for comments on the Bill to October 31.
Mr. Thomas informed Ms. Gandhi about the efforts made to augment foodgrains storage capacity under various schemes, including the Private Entrepreneur Guarantee Scheme and other efforts to ensure uninterrupted supply of grains under the public distribution system, especially in the north-east. The Ministry is also working on creating awareness of food wastage.
The Bill seeks to provide legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains for up to 75 per cent of rural population with at least 46 per cent belonging to ‘priority' (earlier below poverty line) households and up to 50 per cent of urban population with at least 28 per cent belonging to ‘priority' households.
The proposed entitlement is 7 kg of foodgrains per person per month for ‘priority' households at an issue price of Rs.3/kg (rice), Rs.2/kg (wheat) and Rs. 1/kg (coarse cereals). For beneficiaries under the ‘general' category, it will be 3 kg/per person per month at an issue rate not exceeding 50 per cent of the minimum support price for wheat and coarse cereals and derived minimum support price for rice.
Other provisions in the Bill include giving legal right to food to women, children, and special groups such as the destitute and homeless and emergency and disaster-affected persons.
The Bill was prepared by the Ministry after taking into account the recommendations of the NAC and an experts committee headed by the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C. Rangarajan.