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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

NGOs join opposition chorus against food ordinance

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 04, 2013
First Published: 21:40 IST(4/7/2013) | Last Updated: 03:04 IST(5/7/2013)

Not just BJP. Even the non-government organizations are crying foul over the Cabinet's decision to bring an Ordinance to promulgate Right To Food law without a debate in Parliament.

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“The Right to Food Campaign is appalled by the undemocratic decision of the Congress led UPA's Cabinet’s decision to promulgate an ordinance on food security,” a statement said.

The campaign said that an issue like food security which affects millions require deep and informed debate in Parliament and added that the bill needs to be passed only after taking all state Governments and political parties into confidence.

“A discussion was possible with the monsoon session due in just a few weeks. Why then such a hurry to pass an ordinance? The campaign condemns this highhanded decision making style of the government in this matter,” the statement read.

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Several political parties including CPI, CPIM, Biju Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and AIADMK had moved amendments in the Lok Sabha.

Most of these parties have placed amendments asking for universal coverage and opposing the reduction of entitlements from 7 kgs to 5 kgs per person per month.

BJP party president Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that they wanted the bill to be first discussed in Parliament.

The leading opposition party in Parliament had also made it clear that it would accept nothing less than the Food Security Bill which has some more progressive components than the National Food Security Bill.

The revamped Public Distribution System under the food security law will be providing only 166 grams of grains per person per day by providing 25 kilogram of grains per family.

“It is cereal based only, leaving the question of nutritional security out of the purview of government's accountability. It makes no provisions for production of food or for support of small and marginal farmers who are food producers, but very food insecure and poor,” the statement said.

The campaign also alleged that the proposed law undermines some of the entitlements ensured by the Supreme Court in the right to food case.

It criminalises mother's who produce more than two children and children of higher order by not provisioning for maternal entitlements for them.

It has no provisions for community kitchens and feeding of the most hungry or to deal with starvation deaths, the campaign said.

United Nations Special Rapptour on Food Security Oliver De Schutter described the proposed law as a step in right direction but was vary whether it could address the issue of malnutrition.

Although not speaking directing on the government’s food law proposal to cover only 67% of the population, Schutter said the universal approach where the number of poor is large is better than the targeted approach.

“Many countries in the world have been able to able to reduce nutritional poverty through an inclusive policy,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Schutter, who is in India to study the proposed food security bill to present a report on food legislations around the world in September to United Nations General Assembly, said having a targeted approach is not a “magic bullet” to protect the poor from inflationary effect.

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