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State Food Ministers Conference to Discuss National Food Security Bill

The Union Food Ministry has called a meeting of State Food Ministers on February 13 to have detailed consultations on National Food Security Bill before it is again placed in the Parliament. The National Food Security Bill, to provide a statutory framework for assured food security to all was introduced in Lok Sabha on 22nd December, 2011. It was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on January 5, 2012 which has made certain recommendations regarding extent of coverage, entitlements, and strengthening of infrastructure for implementation of the Bill.

The daylong meeting is to be chaired by Prof. K.V. Thomas, Union Minister of Food, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution System will be attended by Minister in charge of Public Distribution System from the states, senior officials of union Ministry of Agriculture, Planning Commission and other Central Ministries. It will discuss proposals made in the Bill and further action for finalization of the Bill in the light of recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The proposed Food Security Bill marks a paradigm shift in addressing the problem of food security – from being viewed as a welfare approach to a right-based approach. It will be a comprehensive effort, adopting a lifecycle approach, in providing food and nutritional security to people, with special emphasis on vulnerable groups. It proposes to entitle about two third of the country`s 1.2 billion population to subsidised foodgrains under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), with special focus on nutritional support to women and children besides provisions for meals for special groups such as destitute and homeless, emergency and disaster affected persons and persons living in starvation. Pregnant and lactating women will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of Rs. 1000 per month for six months. In case of non-supply of foodgrains or meals, the beneficiaries will be entitled to receive food security allowance.

Some of the major highlights of the proposed Food Security Bill are:

§ Up to 75% of the rural population (with at least 46% from priority category) and up to 50% of urban population (with at least 28% from priority category) are to be covered under Targeted Public Distribution System.
§ 7 kg of food-grains per person per month to be given to priority category households which include rice, wheat and coarse grains at Rs. 3, 2, and 1 per kg, respectively.
§ At least 3 kg of food-grains per person per month to be given to general category households, at prices not exceeding 50% of Minimum Support Price.
§ Women to be made head of the household for the purpose of issue of ration cards.
§ Maternity benefit to pregnant women and lactating mothers.
§ End-to-end computerisation of Targeted Public Distribution System.
§ Three-tier independent grievance redressal mechanism.
§ Social audit by local bodies such as Gram Panchayats, Village Councils etc.
§ Meals for special groups such as destitute, homeless persons, emergency/disaster affected persons and persons on the verge of starvation.
§ Food Security Allowance in case of non-supply of food-grains or meals.
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Tag: Food Security Bill

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