Thursday, 7 July 2011


In today's topic of blog I would like to discuss regarding the National Food Security bill which is been in the final steps to be approved by the current UPA government for the well being of people of our country.

It was promise of UPA II agenda to introduce this bill in their session. President Pratibha Patil on June 4, 2009 said that a National Food Security Act would be formulated
The National Advisory Council (NAC), which is headed by Sonia Gandhi, has finalised its draft of the Food Security Bill.  Mrs Gandhi will forward this document to the Prime Minister.

The historic Food Security Bill entitles 75% of India's population to highly-subsidized foodgrains.
The Bill says  two types of households are eligible for discounted grain - "priority households" which are below the poverty line (BPL); and "general households" which consist of Lower Middle Class families.

Priority households are entitled to 35 kilograms per month of foodgrains at these rates   -  Rs. 3 per kg of rice, Rs. 2 per kg of wheat and Rs. 1 per kg of millets. General households have the right to 20 kilograms at a price not exceeding 50% of the Minimum Support Price paid to farmers for the three grains.

What is Food Security Act?

It was one of the political agenda of congress during there 2004 and 2009 elections. Food security is a proposed act which makes food availability a right for every citizen of India. It aims to give common man to lead a healthy and productive life. Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) is a centrally sponsored scheme launched on December 2000 for one crore of the poorest families. It is on the look out for the 'poorest of the poor' by providing them 35 kilos of rice and wheat at Rs.2 per kg. Whereas the National Food Security Act helps the poor to purchase 25 kg of rice or wheat per month at Rs.3 per kg. It calls for broader reforms in the public distribution system. Food Security Act takes into consideration the following three important aspects:
  • Food Availability.
  • Food Access.
  • Food Absorption.
  • It covers 90% of rural population and 50% of urban India.
  • 46% of rural households and 38% of urban households are entitled to the lowest rates; together, they add upto 40% of India's total population.

-  Every person shall have the right of access to sufficient and safe food either directly or by purchasing the food.

- The central and state government shall share the financial cost of procuring, storing and distributing food grains to the population entitled to it.

-  There are special provisions for pregnant and lactating mothers, children in the 0-6 age group, destitute persons, homeless persons and disaster affected persons.  The appropriate government shall take immediate steps to provide relief to persons living in starvation.

- The state government shall provide all children upto class 8 freshly cooked meal in all schools run by local bodies and the government.  It shall also provide mid-day meals to children who are admitted under the 25% quota for children belonging to disadvantaged groups in unaided private schools

- Each household shall be categorised into priority and general in rural and urban areas.

-  Each individual in the priority group households shall be entitled to at least 7kg of grain every month at a maximum price of Rs 3/kg for rice, Rs 2/kg for wheat and Rs 1/kg for millets.

- Each individual in the general group households shall be entitled to 4kg of grain per month at 50 per cent of the Minimum Support Price for paddy, wheat and millet.

-  The state government can exclude certain persons who fulfil the exclusion criteria in rural and urban areas.  However, it has to cover at least 90% of the population in rural areas and 50% of the population in urban areas.

-  The Bill lays down norms for procurement, storage and distribution of food grains under the Public Distribution System.  It also gives detailed norms for Fair Price Shops, ration cards, and monitoring the system.

- It seeks to set up a National Food Commission and State Food Commission in each state.  The Commission shall inquire into complaints on denial of entitlement, advise central and state governments and monitor the schemes.  Each district shall have a District Grievance Redressal Officer.

- The Bill includes penalties for dereliction of duty by public servants, which includes deduction of penalty from the salary of the public servant.

-  Any person deprived of his entitlement to food shall be entitled to compensation from the appropriate government.

-   The Gram Sabhas should conduct social audits of all schemes under this Act.

The cheapest rates of Rs. 3, 2 and 1 will cover 40% of the country's total population.

Some estimates suggest this could cost the government $22.3 billion or Rs. 1.1 trillion per year .
How The Right to Food Campaign started:

In April 2001, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Rajasthan had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the Government of India, Food Corporation of India, and six state governments. The petition contended that the right to food was a fundamental right under “the right to life” provided by Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Any government official falling foul of the law by the district grievance redress system or state or national commission would be liable to pay up to Rs 5,000 as penalty from h/his salary.

Now, it's up to the government to finalize a draft so that it can be introduced in Parliament's monsoon session as had been suggested earlier.

As it is one of the good step taken by the government toward the well being of country to help the poor but the time will say what exactly the benefit will it give to the people when it comes. In our country various bill introduced and withdrawn but each time the benefit access always remain not more than 10%. The middlemen and government official are the real benefit taker of these schemes. Be positive and hope for the best. If possible please do educate people nearby you regarding this so that maximum benefit should reach to the people for whom it has been made



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