The National Food Security Bill proposes to bestow two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion population to subsidised foodgrains and will be introduced under the targeted public distribution system. Among other highlights, the Bill will have women being approved as the household head for the issuing of ration cards. This was announced by Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Prof. KV Thomas while launching the bulletin on food justice in India brought out by Oxfam India.
“Proposed National Food Security Bill marks a paradigm shift in addressing the problem of food security – from it being viewed as a welfare approach to a right-based approach. The Act seeks to address the issue of food security in the country in a holistic manner by adopting a life cycle approach,” said KV Thomas.
Highlighting the provisions of the Food Security Bill, Prof Thomas said that, the proposed Act provides for about two thirds of the population to become entitled to receive subsidized food-grains under Targeted Public Distribution System, with special focus on nutritional support to women and children.
“Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to meal, free of charge, as per the prescribed nutritional norms, will also receive maternity benefit @ Rs. 1000/- per month for six months. In case of non-supply of food-grains or meals, beneficiaries will be entitled to receive food security allowance. Elaborate provisions for grievance redressal mechanism have also been made in the Bill besides other provisions for ensuring transparency and accountability such as disclosure of records of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), social audit and vigilance committees at various levels. The Bill is at present under consideration of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution. The Government is awaiting the outcome of deliberations by the Standing Committee so that we could take further action to take the Bill forward,” he added.
Reiterating the Government’s commitment for food security, Prof Thomas said that ensuring adequate quantities of food at affordable prices has been a focus of planning and policy of Government of India. To ensure food security at the individual or household level, the Government of India implements various schemes in partnership with State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. The Government is implementing the Targeted Public Distribution system (TPDS) under which food-grains at subsidized rates are provided to Below Poverty Line and Above Poverty Line Households through a network of more than 5 lakh fair price shops spread across the country.
Currently, allocations of subsidized food-grains is being made for about 6.5 crore BPL households, which includes 2.5 crore AAY households, and 11.5 crore APL households. Besides, Government is also implementing schemes to specifically address the concerns related to malnutrition, especially among women and children, through schemes like Integrated Child Development Services, Mid-Day Meal, Annapoorna, etc, he asserted.
Some of the major highlights of the Food Security Bill are:
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