New Delhi: The Government on Thursday expressed its commitment to enact the Food Bill that seeks to provide subsidised foodgrains to poor as a matter of legal right.      
"...relentless efforts of farmers coupled with conducive policies of the government have resulted in record foodgrain production in last two consecutive years...Our foodgrains position is, therefore, comfortable...My Government is committed to enacting the National Food Security Bill," President Pranab Mukherjee said.

Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament, Mukherjee said India had produced a record 260 million tonnes foodgrains last year and is projected to produce more than 250 million tonnes in the current year.

Increased production has ensured foodgrains stock to reach 66.2 million tonnes with the government godowns, as on February 1 this year.

The proposed Food Bill, which was introduced in December 2011 in Lok Sabha, has been revised taking into consideration the Parliamentary Panel recommendation and is currently being vetted by the Law Ministry.

The revised Bill aims to cover around 70 percent of the country's population with a uniform allocation of five kg foodgrains per person at a fixed rate of Rs 1-3 per kg every month through ration shops.

An estimated 62-64 million tonnes of Foodgrains is required for implementing the Bill due to which subsidy is expected to shoot up by Rs 20,000 crore from the current level of Rs one lakh crore.

In the wake of tight foodgrains storage situation in view of record production, Mukherjee said: "The storage capacity of about 181 lakh tonnes will be created over the next two years across the country with additional storage space of 5.4 lakh tonnes in the North East."

He also noted that the focus of the government during 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) would continue to be on development of rainfed and degraded areas.

An outlay of Rs 29,296 crore has been earmarked under the Integrated Watershed Management Programme during the plan period.

Mukherjee highlighted several initiatives taken to boost horticulture, dairy and food processing sectors.

He mentioned a National Centre for Cold Chain Development has been set up to give a fillip to the cold chain sector, while National Dairy Plan Phase-I has been approved to meet the projected demand of 150 million tonnes of milk by 2016-17.

That apart, construction of godowns is being promoted under public private partnership mode, while the National Mission on Food Processing has also been launched to encourage food processing, he added.

To achieve self sufficiency in fertilisers like urea, Mukherjee said the recently approved New Investment Policy is expected to create nearly 10 million tonnes of additional production capacity in urea by 2017.

With regard to irrigation facilities, he said the government plans to create additional 87 lakh hectares of irrigation potential during the 12th Plan under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme.


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