Congress says Food Security Bill would have immensely benefited the poor
Bhubaneshwar: The Information and Broadcasting Minister , Manish Tewari, has blamed the opposition for the Governments inability to pass the Food Security Bill, which would have helped the country's poor. He was speaking during his visit to Odisha. Manish Tewari said that the bill was " so ambitious and breathtaking" in its very conception and would provide food security to 67 percent of the people of this country, including the poorest of the poor, the marginalised, the weakest. Rice would have been provided at Rs. 2 a kg, wheat at Rs. 3 a kg, maize at Rs. 1 a kg . But the bill has been sacrificed at the altar of political opportunism.
"Can there be a bigger travesty of both politics and policy in this country?" questioned Manish Tewari. Commoners like Padma Singh, a mother of five children in a village in Odisha, is struggling to feed her children, she said subsidised food would have helped her sustain her family. Padma said, "We are very poor and cannot have a proper meal. My family survives by eating only rice and boiled potato, as we cannot afford lentils. The cost of rice in the open market is 20 rupees per kilogram. We do not have a below poverty line card as well, so we cannot access subsidized food," she said.
A human rights activist and campaigner for food, Pradeep Pradhan, said, "the system of foodgrain distribution was plagued with corruption and needs to be reworked. How it will be changed is the biggest issue. It requires a robust mechanism, an independent body that will be totally separate from the government structure, government apparatus and it will address the issues. It should be a time bound mechanism." The bill aims to provide subsidised wheat and rice to 70 percent of the 1.2 billion people in India, home to 25 percent of the world's hungry poor, according to a U.N. agency, despite being one of the biggest producers of food supplies. The Congress Party, which leads the coalition government, is pushing to pass the National Food Security Bill before elections, which are due by May 2014.