Expressing his in principle approval of the proposed national food security bill, chief minister Nitish Kumar said here Monday his government wanted the centre to bear additional financial burden ensuing on poor states.
The chief minister, who was talking to newsmen after his Janata Durbar, said his regime had acquainted the centre with its views, suggestions and concerns on three occasions.
“Some of the concerns have been addressed. Issues like clarity on the quantum of economic burden falling on states remain. But we are open to the idea,” he said.
The bill, Kumar pointed out, was a central legislation. It was the centre's idea for a paradigm shift in addressing the problem of food security from the current welfare approach to a right-based approach.
“Therefore, the centre should foot the entire cost instead of saddling resource starved states, like Bihar, with additional burden in the implementation of targeted public distribution system,” he said, adding, “otherwise, it will have a crippling impact.”
“The bill should consider having an individual as a unit for entitlement instead of family to avoid variations in the size of family. We have suggested a raise in the entitlements from 5kg to 7 kg,” he said.
The state has also demanded the constitution of an independent BPL Commission for the identification, authentication, updation and display of beneficiaries in a transparent and continued manner.
Once, an independent BPL Commission is set up it can carry on the works like inclusion and exclusion of beneficiaries on a continuous basis like the preparation of electoral roll by the Election Commission, he said.
To a question whether the UPA was angling to position the bill as an electoral gambit ahead of Lok Sabha polls, like the MNREGA before 2009 general elections, Kumar said it is part of its manifesto.
“They had all the time to implement it. But now they are doing so in the last leg of their tenure. The idea is good and should not be viewed only in terms of political advantage or disadvantage”, he added.