The Government would require an additional Rs 20,000 crore to implement the proposed Food Security Bill, said Food Minister K.V.Thomas on Thursday. The proposed Bill would increase the food grain requirement by around 7 million tonnes (mt) to 62 mt.
“We hope to introduce the Bill in the last week of the first half of the Budget session and pass it in the second half,” Thomas said. The Budget Session is expected to commence from February 21.
An ambitious programme of the United Progressive Alliance II Government, the proposed Food Security Bill aims to provide subsidised food grains to about two-thirds of the country’s population.
Currently, the Government incurs a subsidy burden of about Rs 1 lakh crore in providing subsidised food grains of about 55 mt to the poor through the public distribution system.
Several States had expressed reservations on the provisions of the proposed Bill, especially on subsidised grain allocation. Tamil Nadu had even sought an exemption, saying it wanted to stay out of it.
Seeking to allay the concerns raised by the States, Thomas said, “We will protect the current subsidised grain allocation of the States. We hope Tamil Nadu will also come around to our view.” The Food Minister further emphasised that the distribution system should be strengthened for effective implementation.
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December in 2011 and sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee. The revised Bill is being worked out on the basis of the Parliamentary panel recommendations.
The proposed Bill provides for coverage of up to 75 per cent of the rural population, with at least 46 per cent of the population belonging to priority households. It will also provide for up to 50 per cent of the urban population, with at least 28 per cent of the population belonging to priority households for receiving subsidised foodgrains under the targeted public distribution system.