The draft National Food Security Bill, that seeks to provide rice
at Rs.3, wheat at Rs.2 and coarse grains at Re.1 per kg to over
half of India's 1.2 billion population, has hit a roadblock over
issues of high cost and availability of grains.
The bill seeks to cover 75 percent of the rural population and 50
percent of urban households. The union cabinet deferred a decision
on the draft bill Dec 13 and is likely to take it up Monday.
"We are trying our best to introduce the bill this session," Food
Minister K.V. Thomas told IANS.
The bill is the pet project of the Sonia Gandhi-led National
Advisory Council and was part of the Congress manifesto for the
2009 general election.
Informed sources said Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has
expressed concern that food subsidy, currently at Rs.63,000 crore
($12 billion), may go up to Rs.1.2 lakh crore ($23 billion) if the
bill is implemented. Add to that the rising fertiliser prices and
the minimum support price (MSP) of the grains, the government is
staring at a colossal cost, they added.
Pawar has cautioned that the government must make provision for
two successive years of drought, which can impact availability of
It is estimated that against the current procurement levels of 54
millions tonnes, the requirement may go up to 62 million tonnes.
Government foodgrain stocks in August 2011 were 61.27 million
The general category will be provided at least three kilograms of
foodgrains per person per month at half the MSP.
The agriculture minister has also asked the government to take on
board the states, which will implement the law. States have said
legal rights allowing women, children, destitute and homeless
people to take home the ration would bring additional financial
burden on them.
Food ministry sources said the bill provides for cost-sharing to
pacify them. The states also have objections over authority to
decide on the criteria to identify the beneficiaries.
A three-tier grievance redressal mechanism at district, state and
national level is also part of the legislation.
provisions of the bill
draft bill seeks to cover 75 percent of the rural population and
50 percent of urban households and proposes the right to 7 kg
foodgrain per person, at Rs.3 per kg for rice, Rs.2 per kg for
wheat and Rs.1 per kg for coarse grains.
general category will be provided at least 3 kg foodgrain per
person per month at half the minimum support price (MSP).
bill provides a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism at
district, state and national level.
Minister Sharad Pawar is concerned that food subsidy, currently at
Rs.63,000 crore ($12 billion), may go up to Rs.1.2 lakh crore ($23
is estimated that against the current grain procurement levels of
54-55 million tonnes, the requirement may go up to 62 million
foodgrain stocks in August 2011 were 61.27 million tonnes.