New Delhi: In a setback to Food Security Bill, considered as the world's biggest welfare programme, many of the states on Wednesday differed on the quantity of subsidised grain to be supplied and the number of beneficiaries to be covered under the scheme.

The consultation meeting of state food ministers was organised here to evolve a consensus on recommendations of the Parliamentary panel that suggested drastic changes in the proposed Food Bill, which aims to give legal right over subsidised foodgrains to two-thirds of the population.

Tamil Nadu sought complete exemption from the implementation of the bill saying it lacked clarity, while states like Bihar, Orissa, Kerala, Punjab and Gujarat suggested the Centre first modernise Public Distribution System (PDS) before rushing to implement it.

Asked if lack of consensus on the Bill will delay Food bill, Union Food Minister K V Thomas said separately, "Except Tamil Nadu, all states have welcomed the bill. Some have expressed reservation on certain provisions. ...we cannot satisfy all states. We intend to present the revised bill in the forthcoming session of Parliament."

Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh pitched for universal public distribution system (PDS), whereas Orissa, Kerala and Bihar, among others, said the foodgrains quantity of 5 kg per person per month suggested by the Parliamentary panel was not sufficient and sought higher allocation.

Tamil Nadu Food Minister R Kamaraj said: "I insist that the government should exempt Tamil Nadu from implementation of the proposed Food Bill and allow the state to implement the existing universal PDS as it is more effective".

"The bill is replete with confusion and inaccuracy and there is no clarity on identification of beneficiaries".

The consultation meeting, attended by 19 states and UTs, saw many states suggesting identification of beneficiaries be left to them. They said it would be difficult to bear additional expenses of implementing the bill due to financial stress.


Latest News  from Business News Desk