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Saturday, 19 January 2013

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Unanswered questions on India’s Food Security Bill

The standing committee on food, consumer affairs and public distribution on Thursday signed off on the Food Security Bill that nearly matches recommendations made by the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC), in a move that would boost the prospects of the ruling Congress party at the next election.
The committee recommended that 75% of the rural population and 50% of urban India—or about two-thirds of the population as per 2011 census figures—be identified as a single category of beneficiaries with a uniform entitlement at 5kg per person a month.
However, experts and opposition leaders raised many questions on the sustainability of the bill.
Unanswered questions on the bill
  • Who will supply the food grains timely to ration shops? Indian Railways?
  • Will there be any tatkal facility to get urgent delivery of the food grains?
  • Will there be any first class facility to avoid long cues?
  • Few contractors asked whether there is need to construct platforms for end consumers to stand in long cues. Supply of cold drinks and junk foods will be free.
  • Are political leaders included in the total number of poor in India that gets benefit under the bill?
  • Can we access the food grains order on IRCTC website? Government can consider that option.
  • Government called state governments to ensure no corruption at the ration shops. What is the estimated number of closure of the ration shops if they are not allowed to make black marketing?

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