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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Entitlements not on per capita basis in proposed National Food Bill: Raman writes to PM

Ejaz Kaiser, Hindustan Times  Raipur, February 13, 2013
First Published: 20:23 IST(13/2/2013) | Last Updated: 23:20 IST(13/2/2013)

Chief minister Raman Singh suggested the Centre to incorporate suitable provisions in the proposed National Food Security Bill aimed to provide legal entitlement of cheaper foodgrains to the poor.

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Citing some marked differences between the recently enacted Chhattisgarh Food Security Act and the National Food Bill, the CM had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday seeking the entitlement of 35 kg foodgrains per household per month instead of allocation on a per capita basis. 

"The proposed entitlement of 5 kg per person per month would not be sufficient to ensure food security of poor families", said Singh.

Pointing out that the Chhattisgarh Act has no prescribed inclusion or exclusion limits, the chief minister said that the prescription of exclusion criteria and exclusion limits (in terms of percentage of population) in the National Food Security Bill are "counteractive" to each other.

"It would be more appropriate to only specify clear and verifiable exclusion criteria and to not specify an exclusion limit", the letter suggested.

The Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution in their 27th report on the National Food Security Bill has recommended that the Centre should work out state specific exclusion criteria in consultation with states in transparent manner while ensuring that the overall exclusion at the national level does not exceed 25% in case of rural areas and 50% in case of urban areas.

Chhattisgarh became the first state in the country to legislate a food security law. The Act legally entitles around 4.2 million poor families access to quality foodgrains at subsidised rates through the public distribution system.The poorest segment numbering 1.1 million will be entitled to 35kg rice per family per month at Rs. 1 per kg while 3.1 million priority households, comprising people below the poverty line (BPL) will get the same quantity or rice at Rs. 2 per kg.

Raman said that uniform exclusion limits should not be prescribed in the proposed Bill and suggested that "the exclusion limit for a state, if at all, should be fixed keeping in view the socio-economic conditions of the state." The chief minister supported the recommendation made by the Standing Committee that the state specific exclusion criteria should be decided in consultation with the state government.

He urged the Prime Minister to provide entitlements on a per household and not on a per capita basis since the provision of entitlements on a per capita basis would result in "reduction of the entitlements of large number of poor families whose family size is less than five and would be detrimental in ensuring food security of such poor families."

The proposed entitlement of 5 kg per person per month would not be sufficient to ensure food security for all and suggested that the entitlement be fixed at 35 kg per household per month, the CM opined.


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