States given the responsibility of expanding food security net to cover more households
The much awaited report of the parliamentary standing committee on the National Food Security Bill was submitted to the Lok Sabha speaker on January 17. This paves the way for the government to push for its enactment in the upcoming budget session in February.
Contrary to popular expectations, the report has not changed the scope and amount of subsidised foodgrain entitlement in the bill. Rather, it has shifted the responsibility of covering more population under the proposed law to states.
The committee sticks to the current bill's entitlement, covering 75 per cent of rural population and 50 per cent of urban population with five kilograms of foodgrains per capita. The report emphasises the need of single category of beneficiaries with uniform entitlements. The committee observes that categorisation for entitlements would be complicated and impractical to implement. The committee also recommends that all the allocation of foodgrains should be based on 2011 population estimates which may be reviewed every 10 years.
Extending responsibility to states, the committee says, “The state governments may be given the flexibility to extend the coverage beyond the numbers prescribed under the proposed bill out of their own resources so as to cover more population, but not less population as envisaged in the proposed bill.”
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