New Delhi: The National Food Security Bill approved by the Cabinet will add up an extra burden on crippling Public Distribution System (PDS) of the country. The Central government’s plan to provide food grains to three fourth of the population through PDS, which is already rotted, will give ample space for practicing wrongdoings.

The economic survey conducted in the last fiscal year has clearly indicated that existing public distribution system, which provides food grains at subsidized rates, is almost defunct. According to a report, 60 percent wheat and 20 percent rice, which is meant for the poor, are looted and sold in the open market before they reach the Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders.

Ironically, the efforts to curb the malpractice of stealing of food grains from Food Corporation of India (FCI) and storage houses seem to have fallen flat. Under the Public Distribution System, around 35 crore BPL card holders are given food grains at subsidized rates. However, in the proposed Food Bill it has been expanded to 80 crore population.

Surprisingly, as per the provisions in the draft bill, state governments have been made responsible to bolster the Public Distribution System to ensure distribution of food grains without hitch, which may increase the cases of corruption. Besides, there are no clear directives in the bill regarding financial help to state government for improving the ration system.

If the Food Security Bill is implemented, it will raise financial burden to Rs 95,000 crore from the existing Rs 63,000 crore while the foodgrains requirement would go up to 61 million tonnes from 55 million tonnes.

JPN/Bureau