Activists reject Parliament panels's food security bill recommendations

Demand comprehensive legislation for food security and nutrition of all, including vulnerable groups

By Jitendra
Published: Thursday 24 January 2013

Civil society groups under the banner of Right to Food campaigners (RTFC) have rejected the parliamentary standing committee's recommendations on the National Food Security Bill (NFSB). It has also appealed to different political parties and members of Parliament to reject the bill and enact a comprehensive law to end hunger and malnutrition in the country.

According to RTFC, the parliamentary committee's recommendation even after spending more than one year on deliberations, are a leap backward. For instance, the panel report has reduced food entitlement from 7 kg per head per month to 5kg; other provisions too have been diluted.

Entitlement diluted
RTFC said the panel recommendations have left out a large proportion of the population from the public distribution system (PDS) by not making food security universal. The food entitlement reduced to 5kg of foodgrains is about half of what is prescribed by Indian Council for Medical Research for labourers. It is less than half for people engaged in moderate to hard physical labour.

The recommendations do not even guarantee the food rights of children and pregnant and lactating women through ICDS services through anganwadis.

The RTFC further observed that the committee's has excluded even vulnerable groups such as the homeless and destitute people from access to affordable, nutritious hot cooked meals. In this regard, the committee showed its difficulty in identifying the beneficiaries. The report has also omitted any mention of pension for the aged, persons with disabilities and single women; they need this money to buy food.
The recommendations and the bill also forgo on nutrition by way of pulses and oil and do not ensure access to safe food through legal safeguards against genetically modified (GM) food.

The Standing Committee Report on Food Security Bill 2011, 17 Jan 2013

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