Says loopholes may defeat purpose of food Bill
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Bhubaneswar, 4 August
Several prominent civil society organisations of the state opposed the National Food security Ordinance-2013, picking out several loopholes which they fear will defeat the very purpose behind the piece of legislation.
As many as 356 activists belonging to several umbrella organizations from across Odisha participated in a two-day “Jana Mancha” to discuss the issue relating to right to food in Odisha in the wake of recent Ordinance.
“The NFSO is extremely inadequate and makes a mockery of food security. It provides extremely limited food entitlements, is piece meal and is nowhere close to providing food security,” said a participant.
He pointed out that it is cereal based only, leaving the question of nutritional security out of the purview of Government’s accountability.
“The haste with which the Ordinance was brought in spite of the Bill pending in the Parliament betrays an intention to stifle parliamentary debate over an issue that touches the lives of every citizen of this country ~ especially the poor and the vulnerable,” he added.
The organizers of the event~ Odisha Khadya Adhikar Abhiyan and Right to Food campaign ~ who along with other networks have consistently campaigned since 2009 June for a comprehensive Food Security Act, lamented the present form of Ordinance as it is not adequate to address the food insecurity and hunger issue of Odisha and elsewhere too.
Another activist noted that the Ordinance continues with a targeted PDS, excluding about 18 per cent from rural and 44 per cent from urban population of Odisha from accessing PDS as a right, giving scope to large exclusion errors of the poor.
“It is based on the highly controversial poverty line of 27.2 rupees for rural India and an even lower 23 rupees for Rural Odisha (33.3 rupees and 29 rupees for urban India and Odisha respectively). The final quotas are derived from poverty estimates based on these poverty lines while the Government had earlier promised to the Supreme Court and to the nation that these poverty estimates would not be used for deciding eligibility for government programmes,” he said.
The quantity of food grains, issue of cash transfer as well as ambiguity regarding universal maternal entitlements et al are the other major points of disagreement.
The Mancha demanded a universal public distribution system, while suggesting providing minimum of 10 kg of grain per person per month along with adequate quantities of pulses and edible oil.