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Govt needs to finalise National Food Bill: Montek

Press Trust Of India
Jun 29, 2011 at 04:18pm IST

New Delhi: The government should form a clear idea about the proposed National Food Security Bill as the new poverty list may not be available soon, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Wednesday.

The proposed National Food Security Bill, the 2009 election promise of the UPA government, aims to provide a legal right to subsidised foodgrains to the poor.

At present, the Food Ministry is ready with the draft Bill and it will be placed before the panel of ministers soon.

Govt needs to finalise National Food Bill: Montek

A nationwide Census to identify Indians living below the poverty line (BPL) began on Wednesday.

"When it (proposed Bill) will be introduced (in Parliament), I don't know. The Act also depends on the new poverty numbers. So whether you pass it now or you pass it a little later, I don't think the poverty list is going to be available for some time," Ahluwalia told reporters.

"I don't think the date of the passage (of the Bill) is crucial. What is important is to get a clear idea of what is it going to be," he said.

He was replying to a query on whether the proposed Bill will be passed in Parliament this year.

A nationwide Census to identify Indians living below the poverty line (BPL) and help determine those eligible for social welfare schemes meant for the poor began on Wednesday after a gap of 14 years.

The results of the census, which will be utilised in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17), will also help in extending the benefit of the Food Security Act to the poor.

At present, there is a wide divergence between the estimates of poverty by the Planning Commission and other government agencies.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary panel report has said the government needs to "thrash out all the issues relating to poverty criteria, estimation, identification and targeting before finalising the Food Security Bill".

In the draft bill, the Food Ministry has proposed coverage of 68 per cent of the country's population with a legal right to subsidised foodgrains.

A nationwide Census to identify Indians living below the poverty line (BPL) began on Wednesday.

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