Govt committed to tabling Food Security Bill in Par soon: PM

New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singhtoday said the government is committed to tabling the NationalFood Security Bill in Parliament soon to provide a legalguarantee for cheaper rice and wheat to the poor.

"We are committed to bringing before Parliament soon theRight to Food Act...," Singh said after inaugurating aconference of US think-tank International Food Policy ResearchInstitute (IFPRI) here.

Since malnutrition is particularly high amongst the poorand the vulnerable, they need to be supplemented with socialsafety nets, the Prime Minister said, adding that the NationalFood Security Bill will ensure this.

The Bill aims to provide the poor a legal guarantee forcheaper rice and wheat and was a part of the Congress'' 2009election manifesto.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi-headed National AdvisoryCouncil (NAC) is working on a draft Bill. The NAC has proposeda legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains for 75 per centof the country''s total population.

According to NAC''s proposal, the government shouldprovide 35 kg of foodgrains a month to "priority households"at a subsidised rate of Rs 1 per kg for millet, Rs 2 for wheatand Rs 3 for rice.

For "general category" households, the NAC has suggestedsupplying 20 kg of foodgrains at a price not exceeding 50 percent of the prevailing minimum support price (Rs 5.50 a kg forwheat and Rs 7.70 per kg for rice now).

After examining the NAC proposals, the Prime Minister''spanel, headed by PMEAC chief C Rangarajan, has raised concernsover availability of the foodgrain to implement the NACproposal. The panel suggested providing legal guarantee to thepoor on a priority basis.

The projected requirement of foodgrains to implement NACproposal is higher than the current average procurement of50-54 million tonnes, Rangarajan had observed.

The government supplies subsidised rice and wheat throughration shops to Rs 6.52 crore below poverty line families andRs 11.5 crore above poverty families. But there no legalguarantee to this at present.

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