Bogged down by 1,70,000 memorandums from different quarters, a parliamentary panel is still struggling to arrive at a consensus on the UPA government's ambitious food security bill.
The standing committee on food, consumer affairs and public distribution — which has been reviewing the bill since January 2011 — is also awaiting the response of all the state governments. The bill would be an integral part of the political consensus on the landmark legislation, which seeks to give people a legal right to food.
While parliamentary committees normally take five-six meetings to formulate their reports on bills, the food panel — with members cutting across 10 political parties — has met 16 times without managing to finalise the draft report.
The bill was referred to the standing committee in January this year and, according to sources, the final report may not be prepared before the second half of the budget session. “We are trying to build a broad-based political consensus at the standing committee level to make it easier for the government to pass it later in parliament. This requires a lot of consultation and time,” food and consumers affairs standing committee chairman Vilas Muttemwar told HT.
A section of the ruling establishment, however, is not amused at the way the process is being stretched. The food ministry brass is also waiting for the panel to clear the bill soon.
Muttemwar, however, said the delay was justified. “We got more than 1,70,000 memorandums from various organisations and individuals, and many wanted to personally depose before the panel,” he said.