New Delhi: Despite opposition from key ally, NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, the UPA government on Wednesday cleared the Food Security ordinance at a Cabinet meet. The government now has six months to replace the food ordinance with a Food Bill.
The ordinance will now be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday for approval. If the President signs it, then the ordinance will have to come into immediate effect. However, with a lot of ground work still pending, the Food Security ordinance cannot be implemented immediately.
Strongly opposing the food ordinance, Samajwadi Party said the party will not support the Bill whether the government stays or not. "It seems that the government is in a hurry to pass the Bill, we will not allow the passage of the bill without a debate in Parliament. It must be discussed and we will never support such a Bill, whether this government stays or not," SP said.
The Food Security Bill, a pet project of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, was tabled in the Budget session of Parliament but could not be taken up for discussion due to pandemonium in the Lok Sabha over various scams.
With this, India will join select league of countries in the world that guarantee majority of its population foodgrain. At Rs 125,000 crore of government support, the food security programme will be the largest in the world.
The ordinance is being promulgated just weeks before the scheduled monsoon session of Parliament. Even after the ordinance, the bill will have to be approved by both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
The ordinance will guarantee 5kg of rice, wheat and coarse cereals per month per person at a fixed price of Rs 3, 2, 1, respectively. However, about 2.43 crore poorest of the poor families covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) scheme under PDS (public distribution system) would get legal entitlement to 35kg of foodgrains per family per month.
Officials said the ordinance will be presented to the President on Thursday. Once the President signs it, rules will be framed. The programme will be rolled-out from August after state governments prepare the beneficiary list.
With Additional Inputs From PTI