New Delhi: Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Prof K.V Thomas on Wednesday said the government intends to present the revised National Food Security Bill in Parliament during Budget Session for consideration and passage.
Thomas, who met representatives of states to discuss the National Food Security Bill and the recommendations of Parliament Standing Committee, said: "We intend to present the revised Bill in Parliament in the forthcoming Budget Session and therefore this is last opportunity for consultation before finalising the Bill. I look forward to hear your views on recommendations of the Standing Committee and seek active cooperation in successful implementation of the Food Security Act."
"Now, a detailed presentation will be made on recommendations of the Standing Committee, with particular reference to the issues that I have specifically mentioned above, i.e. issues of coverage, identification, entitlement, prices as well as sharing of expenditure, where the views of the State Governments are crucial," he added.
Thomas said that the states have to play a very crucial role in this historic and path-breaking initiative and urged them to strengthen Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) including intermediate storage facilities at all levels in order to be able to successfully implement the act.
"I seek personal attention of state food ministers to ensure time-bound accomplishment of certain critical components of strengthening such as elimination of bogus ration cards, door step delivery, first phase of computerisation of TPDS, setting up or strengthening of state civil supplies corporations, setting up of vigilance committees and ensuring their regular meetings etc. As you are aware, the Supreme Court has also from time to time passed orders for strengthening of TPDS on which States/UTs are also required to file their responses,' he added.
He further said that as we move from a welfare approach on food security to a rights based approach, the issue of grievance redressal assumes great importance.
"The Bill provided for a three tire independent grievance redressal mechanism. Keeping the concerns of States/UTs on additional expenditure required to be borne by them, the Committee has recommended that States/UTs should be allowed to use existing machinery for grievance redressal," he said.
"In this background, I would be particularly interested in hearing the views of State Governments on the kind of institutional structure that the Food Security Act should have in order to ensure that the entitlements reach the intended beneficiaries and those responsible for delivery of benefits are held accountable in case they fail to do so," he added.
The Bill, to provide food security for all in a rights based manner, is being finalised in the light of recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The National Food Security Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December, 2011 and thereafter was examined in detail by the Parliamentary Standing Committee. State Food Ministers' meet has been called by the Centre to have final consultations on the Bill in the light of recommendations of the Standing Committee.