New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved amendments to the Food Security Bill. Sources said the subsidy in the Bill has now been increased to Rs 5094 crore. The Bill also authorises the government to make allocation of foodgrain at existing rates even for those who are officially above the poverty lines, the sources added.
Congress's effort to get the Food Bill passed in the Lok Sabha received a boost on Tuesday with the Janata Dal (United) coming out in its support and the Samajwadi Party backing it conditionally.
"It will benefit so many people. That is why we have decided to support it," JD(U) spokesman KC Tyagi said. He said the legislation will benefit 86 per cent of people in Bihar, where his party is in power, and 70 per cent in the country. The JD(U), which appeared to have come closer to the Congress after snapping ties with BJP, has 20 MPs in Lok Sabha and eight in Rajya Sabha.
Tyagi said UPA government has accepted two of the three amendments in the bill moved by his party. Samajwadi Party, which held a meeting of its Parliamentary Party to decide the view of the party on the Bill, put conditions for extending support. Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said SP will back the legislation provided amendments suggested by it are accepted.
"I have moved amendments, we will press for it. If the amendments are accepted then it is well, otherwise we will oppose it," Yadav said outside Parliament when asked whether the party would support the Food Security Bill.
The SP has moved amendments on the proposed Food Bill for giving pulses along with rice to improve nutrition. The party also wants to give farmers their due for crops and giving more grains per person. Food Minister KV Thomas and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had met Yadav on Monday to solicit his support for the Bill.
The SP is a key outside supporter of the government. The government was keen on passing the bill in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday on the occasion of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's birth anniversary, but the resurfacing of the coalgate issue paralysed proceedings in Parliament.