Centre clears ordinance on food security

The ordinance, if signed by the President, will come into immediate effect

By Jitendra
Published: Wednesday 03 July 2013

After it failed to achieve a consensus with parties of the Opposition, the cabinet has, on July 3, finally chosen the ordinance route to implement the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) 2011. The move is a big win for the UPA government ahead of the 2014 elections.

The NFSB will guarantee food and nutritional security   by providing certain minimum foodgrains at subsidised rate  of Rs 1-3 per kilogram to close to 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban population. It would also provide cash to beneficiaries in case the state failed to provide food.

The ordinance will now be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee, for his assent. If he signs the document, the ordinance will come into immediate effect. However, the ordinance will have to pass in both houses within six months of its promulgation.

On June 13, the cabinet had deferred its ordinance on the implementation of the bill   and opted for special parliament session. The Cabinet had entrusted Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Food Minister K V Thomas with the responsibility of meeting Opposition leaders to court their support of the Bill.

Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party claimed that no government minister or leader had approached them. Nirmala Seetharaman, the spokeperson of the BJP, accused the government of escaping debate in parliament over the NFSB.

The UPA allies, as well as National Congress Party leader and agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar had initially been against this move. The Samajwadi Party (SP) too had termed the bill anti-farmer.

NFSB, the brainchild of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, was a part of the UPA manifesto in the 2009 elections. It was first introduced in the Parliament in December 2011. It was later referred to a Parliamentary standing committee that submitted its report on January 17 this year. The Bill was tabled during the recently concluded budget session in Parliament in May, but was left hanging after the Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die.

The National Food Security Bill, 2013

The National Food Security Bill, 2011: Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (2012-13)
Global food security index 2012

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