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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

SC panel urges for foodgrain subsidy to BPL families

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 24, 2011
First Published: 00:37 IST(24/7/2011) | Last Updated: 21:43 IST(19/10/2011)

Even as the UPA government deliberates on a new food security law, a Supreme Court-appointed panel has asked the Centre to supply foodgrain to the states at Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) rates for all the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, in the 172 poorest districts identified.

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The justice DP Wadhwa committee laid down several criteria to identify a BPL family in both rural and urban areas. A family with monthly income of less than Rs5,000 or annual income of less than R60,000 should be included in the BPL category, it suggested.

In its latest report to the SC, the committee stated that a BPL family in the poorest districts should get 35 kg foodgrain every month, as against 25 kg presently given to such families.

Under the AAY scheme, rice is available for Rs3 per kg and wheat at Rs2 per kg. Otherwise, BPL families get rice at Rs6 per kg and wheat at Rs4.50 per kg through PDS.

The committee also suggested an exclusion criterion to ensure foodgrain is not supplied to "ineligible" families.

The report follows the court's direction to the government to distribute an additional 5 million tonne foodgrain in the poorest districts. The order came after a PIL, on right to food, was filed by civil rights body PUCL.

The court on Friday sought Planning Commission's response to the report and asked it to explain how it was possible for a person to get 2400 calories at Rs10 or Rs20 as stated by the plan panel in its affidavit.

The Wadhwa committee also suggested setting up community kitchens to provide free food to those who cannot afford even subsidised food grains. It has sought help of corporations to float the scheme.

The committee's suggestions are in connection with distribution of 5 million tonnes additional allocation of food grains, as directed by the SC. It clarified that the measures were temporary only for a period of three months.

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