Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said implementing the food security plan could involve great financial risks.
Pawar’s statement also revealed worries within the government over the sustainability of the world’s largest food-based welfare programme to provide cheap grains to 75% Indians — about 900 million people.
He said at the Economic Editors’ Conference here on Wednesday that for instance, the market price of jwar (a coarse cereal) is Rs16 a kg, while the proposal is to provide it at Rs1 or 2. “We must also think what effect this will have on the economy.”
“I have raised these concerns in some of our internal discussions. Pawar said his remarks should not be “generalised” to suggest that he was against welfare measures. “But long-term repercussions have to be seen.”
He had conveyed his concerns about the programme to the Prime Minister in a letter in June, as his ministry is responsible for ensuring enough farm output to keep the scheme going.
Food minister KV Thomas, however, remains upbeat about bringing the bill to Parliament, possibly in the winter session next month.