New Delhi: After steering the ambitious Food Security Bill through the Cabinet, Food Minister K V Thomas says fears about unsustainability of the subsidised foodgrains scheme are unfounded.
He also feels there will be no shortage of foodgrains for the scheme at least for the next 30 years.
Denying that the Food Bill has been brought in a hurry in view of the coming assembly elections in five states, he said the legislation is "well conceived" and was drafted after two-and-a-half years of meticulous exercise.
On apprehensions raised by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and others regarding the financial implication and sustainability of the scheme, Thomas said "the issue was discussed at least nine times in the EGoM (Empowered Group of Ministers) before finalisation of the draft".
He refuted charges that the Bill has been rushed through with an eye on the forthcoming assembly elections that included the most populous state Uttar Pradesh.
Thomas said the proposed legislation was part of UPA election manifesto during the 2009 polls and President Pratibha Patil had also made a mention of it during her address to the joint session of Parliament in June 2009.
"The proposed legislation aims at ensuring food security for the poor in the rural and urban areas and imputing any political motive to it is not justified," Thomas said.
The Food Bill has been prepared following all set norms and after wide consultations within the central government, all state governments, NGOs and people from cross section of the society, he added.
The Union Cabinet had on Sunday approved the National Food Security Bill, 2011, considered a pet project of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. It aims at giving legal entitlement of cheaper foodgrains to 63.5 percent of the country's population.