Ordinance replacement Bill on food security introduced in LS

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securityNew Delhi August 7;The much talked about, ambitious and historical Bill to replace the National Food Security Ordinance 2013, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday amid strong objections raised by the AIADMK and the DMK.

Introducing the Bill even as Seemandhra MPs created uproar on the Telangana issue and the BJP members raised slogans on the killing of jawans in Kashmir, Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution K.V. Thomas claimed that the “National Food Security Bill 2013” did not infringe on the rights of the States. “It protects the Constitution…there is nothing against the Federal system. This Bill will enable the people to get food as the right. This is the first time in the world, food is given as the right”.

Earlier, the minister withdrew a similar Bill that was introduced in 2011 and which was later sent to the parliamentary standing committee. He said many of the proposals made by the committee had been included in the ordinance replacement Bill.

Opposing the legislation at the introductory stage, AIADMK floor leader M. Thambidurai said his party was against the Bill in its present form because it was against the federal set up. It was actually “food insecurity Bill”. The Bill “is against the principles of the Constitution…interfering in the functioning of the State Governments”.

The Centre had unilaterally and hastily promulgated the Ordinance. “Though the Bill claims to provide food security to all, unfortunately contrary to such a claim, there are several flaws in the Bill which have created serious apprehensions and actually raised the spectre of food insecurity for Tamil Nadu”.

The Bill would affect the Public Distribution System, which was being successfully implemented in TN, he said.

DMK parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu, expressing his reservations, said the Bill should not be detrimental to the off-take of a particular State. “The States’ powers should not be ridiculed and should not be reduced to the extent of making them municipalities. So, I am opposing this”. There were lot of issues to be settled. The DMK would be giving amendments to the Bill as the legislation would have far reaching implications on the States’ rights.

As per the provisions of the Bill, over 67 per cent of the country’s population would get 5 kg of food grains every month at Rs. 1-3 per kg. The responsibility of implementation and monitoring of the scheme under the Targeted Public Distribution System was on the State government. It gives them six months to put the systems in place to deliver the programme.

Over 2.43 crore Antyodaya Anna Yojna (poorest of the poor) beneficiaries would however continue to get their legal entitlement of 35 kg a household a month. The ordinance was promulgated on July 5.

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