'Biggest loser' in passage of Food Security is Modi

New Delhi, Aug. 27 (ANI): Janata Dal (United) leader Ali Anwar on Tuesday took a jibe at Gujarat Chief Minister, and termed him as the 'biggest loser' in the passing of the Food Security Bill as Narendra Modi had to go back on his disagreement with the pro-poor scheme, since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supported the bill in Parliament yesterday.

"In the passing of this bill, the biggest loser has been Narendra Modi. Previously, Narendra Modi had written a letter to the Prime Minister, opposing the Food Security Bill and it was expected that the BJP would oppose the bill. However, even the BJP eventually understood that it was important to pass this pro-poor scheme," Anwar said.

"Initially, Sushma Swaraj had agreed to support the Bill, saying that her party would offer some amendments. Later, when Narendra Modi wrote the letter there were doubts. Eventually, Narendra Modi had to step back," Anwar added.

Anwar also used the opportunity to spell out his party's concerns over the implementation of the Food Security Bill, and said that a simple solution to finance the burden of the pro-poor scheme was to take money out of the corporate sector and pump it into benefiting the poor.

"There is no shortage of money. They can pull out money from the corporate sector and spent it towards benefiting the poor. The problem is that the money is with the rich people of the country," Anwar said.

The JD(U) leader also suggested that the scheme should be targeted solely to benefit the poor, leaving out income tax payers from accessing the subsidiary gains.

"Make the scheme universal so that to ensure that every poor person gets assured access to the scheme. In fact, if some rich people are identified and then kept aside-for example, the income tax payees can be left out-and the rest of the people can avail of the scheme, so that it is completely pro-poor. This is an example of the way, a solution can come about to ensure the proper implementation," Anwar said.

Anwar also said that infrastructure development within states will have to be looked into, so that storage and carriage is properly taken care of.

"We have to say, who will take on the financial burden? Will it go on the state? If it has to be taken over by the state, then infrastructure must be provided for storage, godowns, carriage, to the state governments as these things will incur costs. Moreover, the PDS system needs several changes. The crores of rupees which need to be spent on this, how will the poorer states incur these costs? Will it mean that the foodgrains will not reach the people of these states?" he said.

On Monday, the Lok Sabha passed the much-debated Food Security Bill in Parliament.

Before the Bill was passed, Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi highlighted the potential of the Food Security Bill before the Lok Sabha, saying that the House has an opportunity to clear a welfare scheme that would provide subsidized food to nearly 70 percent of India.

We have a chance to create history with this bill. So, my humble appeal is that we, as representatives of people, must make this Bill into an Act," she told members of the Lok Sabha.

Stating that a clear message is being sent out today that India is taking care of providing food to all of its citizens, Gandhi said: "We are ensuring that no child will be malnourished. It's an opportunity that we are providing food security to all. It will also ensure a stop to food grain wastage."

Earlier, initiating the debate on the UPA government's landmark Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha, Food Minister K.V Thomas on Monday said the bill would ensure more transparency and accountability in the PDS system.

Food Security Bill ensures more transparency and accountability in the PDS system, Thomas said, adding, that the number of persons to be covered by the Food Security Bill will be based on the 2011 census.

"This bill will also enhance accountability and transparency. In the current PDS system, there is at least 20-30 percent leakage which leads to black marketing. We have made provisions for the setting up of vigilance committees that will monitor the distribution of supplies and make sure the right people get them," he said.

"We have also put in a clause by which a government servant will be punished if he/she found to be involved in squandering of the supply or if the distribution is not done properly," he added.

The National Food Security Bill is a historic initiative for ensuring food and nutritional security to the people. It gives a right to the people to receive adequate quantity of foodgrains at affordable prices.

The Bill has a special focus on nutritional support to the poorest of the poor , women and children.

In case of non-supply of foodgrains, the deprived will get a food security allowance. The Bill also provides for grievance redressal mechanism and penalty for non -compliance by a public servant or authority. Under the plan, the government will sell subsidised wheat and rice to 67 percent of its 1.2 billion population. (ANI)

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