The successful passage of the Food Security Bill by Parliament has prompted the UPA government in think in favour of a new bill ensuring housing security for all citizens.

The Union Government is going ahead with a new proposal -- Right to Housing -- which is under discussion stage, said K.V.Thomas, the Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution System.

Participating in a Meet the Press programme organised by the Ernakulam Press Club on Sunday, the first media interaction after passage of Food Security Bill, the Minister said that guaranteeing food a fundamental right of the people was the main agenda behind the Food Security Bill.

Likewise, the government hopes to ensure right for dwelling under the purview of various rights of the citizen in line with Right to Information, Right to Education, Right to Health and now Right to Food as well, he said.

With the implementation of the Food Security Bill, he said a life cycle approach for Indians has become a reality. “This is a beginning and the government also has plans to distribute nutritious food, pulses, edible oil and even drinking water through PDS step by step”, he added.

With the passage of the bill, the next focus, he said, is to strengthen the public distribution system by plugging loopholes in diversion of rationing articles to ensure that the essential commodities reaches the deserving without any delay and pilferages.

The Government has convened a special meeting in New Delhi on October 3 and 4 with state food ministers and secretaries to ensure smooth implementation of Food Security Bill.

Modernisation of PDS, end to end computerisation, linkage of Aadhar cards to avail food items at subsidised rates, introducing bio metric system etc would be the part of the agenda, he said.

The state governments should also be encouraged to open intermediary warehousing facilities for the procurement of food grains, he said adding that the investments for establishing storage facilities would be shared by the Union Government.

It is estimated that 62 million tonnes of food grains will be needed per year at the present estimate for implementation of the new scheme but storage of this huge volume will encounter problems.

He said execution of various measures in strengthening the PDS so far has succeeded in plugging the loopholes to 20-25 per cent. But this has reduced the financial burden of the government considerably. The aim is to reduce the burden to the minimum.

(This article was published on September 8, 2013)
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