AIADMK will vote against food bill: Jayalalithaa

Chennai, Aug 25 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Sunday said AIADMK would vote against the food security bill if all the changes suggested by her were not incorporated.

In a statement issued here, Jayalalithaa, also general secretary of her party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), said: "The bill that will be moved in parliament with the partial changes is not acceptable. The AIADMK will vote against the bill."

Jayalalithaa said she had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday on various issues pertaining to the bill.

She also asked Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M. Karunanidhi to clarify his party's position on the bill - whether it would vote for or against the bill.

Jayalalithaa said if the DMK votes in favour of the bill, then it would betray the state's interest.

In a letter sent a day ago to Manmohan Singh, the text of which was released to the media Sunday, Jayalalithaa said: "While some key issues have been addressed in the first set of amendments proposed, there are still some outstanding issues which would require to be addressed before the present national food security bill truly assures food security to the nation and in particular to Tamil Nadu."

She said the central government had agreed to her request that the bill should ensure the present allocation of foodgrains to the state under the public distribution system is not reduced by adding a proviso to that effect.

"However, the newly-introduced proviso leaves the fixation of the issue price to the discretion of the central government. In the event that the issue price is fixed at the economic cost of rice, this would place an additional huge financial burden of around Rs.1,000 crore on the government of Tamil Nadu," she said.

Jayalalithaa urged Manmohan Singh to provide a legally binding assurance that the difference in quantity between what has been assured through the newly introduced second proviso to Clause 3(1) and what is eligible under Clause 3(1) read with Clause 3(2) will be supplied to the states at the price of Rs.3/kg or at least at the current price applicable for above poverty line families of Rs.8.30/kg.

"I reiterate my earlier request to increase the urban coverage to 100 percent or at least 75 percent of the population at par with rural areas," she said.

Jayalalithaa said a provision to obligate the central government to import food in times of scarcity was very crucial to make this legislation truly a food security act.

Referring to the provision in the bill that enables the central government to introduce cash transfer and food coupon schemes, Jayalalithaa said the provision should be amended to indicate that the state government's concurrence for such schemes was necessary.

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