Draft food security bill an eyewash, say social groups


New Delhi : Calling the government’s draft of the national food security bill an eyewash, social activists Tuesday here said the present bill restricts people’s entitlements and is devoid of any accountability.

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Right to Food campaign, which is a conglomeration of social activist groups, urged the members of parliament and political parties to reject the parliamentary standing committee recommendations on the food security bill.

“The government’s draft bill had no commitment towards nutritional security. It undermines the food rights of children and pregnant and lactating women by not guaranteeing them…services through anganwadis,” social activist Radha Holla said.

“For example, the government draft recommends one meal a day to be provided in government schools for children between two to 16 years of age. This will effectively leave out children of two to six years of age as entry in government school begins at the age of six,” Holla said.

Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is a flagship scheme which aims at improving the nutritional and health status of children aged up to six years and enhancing the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child.

The campaign, which is a conglomeration of several social activist groups, said the bill interprets food security only as distribution of cereals and cooked meals and is completely silent on distribution of pulses, millets and oil under the public distribution system (PDS).

Seeking the universalisation of public distribution system (PDS), activists said the government draft bill gives provision of monthly five kg of cereals and food grain per person. It is much less than the Supreme Court order of 35 kg of food grain per household per month.

“Monthly quotas of five kg of food grain per person, which is about 25 kg per household, is much less than the Supreme court order of 35 kg of food grain per household every month. Right now many below poverty line (BPL) and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) card holders are entitled to 35 kg of food grain,” said Kavita Srivastava, a social activist.

Activists also criticised Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for pushing field trials of the genetically modified (GM) crops. Activists said the draft bill of food security does not ensure access to safe food through legal safeguards against Genetically Modified (GM) foods.