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Activists seek comprehensive food security

By Ians English

Food Grains
Kolkata, June 8: Observing that a comprehensive food security bill was required for the country where nearly 230 million live in starvation, Right to Food Campaign activists Saturday asked the government to discuss the Food Security Bill in parliament instead of opting for an ordinance.

Describing the amended version of the National Food Security Bill presented in parliament May 2 as "inadequate and making a mockery of food security", the Right to Food Campaign - an umbrella of NGOs - demanded amendments in the bill after a debate in parliament.

"The bill provides extremely limited food entitlements, is piecemeal and is nowhere close to providing food security. It makes no provisions for production of food or for support of small and marginal farmers who are food producers," said Harsh Mander, a member of the campaign.

"Over 230 million people in India live in starvation and every second Indian child is malnourished. This bill is severely flawed and hardly provides any answers about food security," added Mander, also a special commissioner to the Supreme Court.

According to the activists, the major drawbacks which plague the bill include absence of a definite time-frame for implementing the scheme, lack of a strong grievance redress mechanism and entry of private contractors in the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

"Excluding 33 percent of the population from its ambit is glaring and gives a big scope of barring a large section of the poor population. The scheme should be universally applicable," said Kavita Srivastava of the campaign.

The activists are planning a massive movement in Delhi seeking proper amendments to the bill.


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