New Delhi: The practicality of UPA's ambitious Food Security Bill on Wednesday came in for questioning from Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar as he contended its goal could not be achieved in letter and spirit given the present structure of public distribution system.
His comments came as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee voiced concern over the rising subsidy bill, which is expected to overshoot Rs 2.34 lakh crore mark this fiscal, when he
talked about the Food Bill that is going to be the world's largest subsidised food distribution programme.
"I will be failing in my duty if I do not emphasize the fact that the Food Security Act will never succeed in achieving its goal in letter and spirit, if we try to push the same through the existing PDS apparatus," Pawar said at a conference here on 'Targeted Public Distribution System and Storage' in the presence of Mukherjee.
Pawar, who heads key UPA constituent NCP, felt that "a massive process re-engineering" was required to make the PDS compatible with the proposed law which aims to provide legal entitlement to heavily-subsidised foodgrains to 63.5 per cent of the country's population.
The Food Bill, pushed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, has been introduced in Parliament and is being examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food.
However, Pawar said, "...there is no denying the fact that as a welfare nation, time has really come to ensure that each and every citizen of this country gets two square meals a
day. My only concern is whether the existing mechanism is compatible enough with the spirit of this Act?"
Addressing the conference of Food and Agriculture Ministers of states after Pawar, Mukherjee said the government has taken a "gigantic responsibility" to implement the Food
Bill but at the same time he voiced concern over skyrocketing subsidy bills which is putting pressure on the government's fiscal deficit.