SC officer slams food subsidy cuts | delhi | Hindustan Times
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SC officer slams food subsidy cuts

The union government’s bid to reform the food subsidy regime through the proposed National Food Security law has got the Supreme Court-appointed Right to Food commissioners up-in-arms against the government.

delhi Updated: Mar 23, 2010 17:57 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The union government’s bid to reform the food subsidy regime through the proposed National Food Security law has got the Supreme Court-appointed Right to Food commissioners up-in-arms against the government.

An Empowered Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee has decided that the Centre will determine the number of poor in the country and who will get 25 kg food grains a month — 10 kg less than the existing quota.

To curtail the current central food subsidy bill of Rs 50,000, the EGoM has also decided that the Centre will not provide any “direct food subsidy in cash” to state governments, who would be responsible to implement the proposed law. “If the government restricts food subsidy, it would be a retrogressive step,” said Biraj Pathnaik, principal advisor, office of the Supreme Court commission on Right to Food. “The EGoM decision is bad for two reasons. First, it is being taken at a time when there is an unprecedented food price crisis. Second, cutting down on food grain entitlement will extenuate hunger in the country,” he added.

India is ranked 65th in the global hunger index out of 88 countries and 46 per cent of its children under five are malnourished, highest for any country in the world. “A restrictive law not aimed at nutritional security is futile and a meaningless exercise,” Pathnaik said.

Ceiling of the BPL families is yet to be finalised.

The ministerial group has decided that all identified BPL families would be entitled to get 25 kg of food grains under the law at a price of Rs three per kilogram. However, this price will be valid only for the tenure of the UPA-2 as promised by the Congress in its manifesto.

However, non-BPL will not be covered under the ambit of the law even though they would get 35 kg of food grains at the market price under targeted public distribution system (TPDS).