Difficult to implement Food Bill without adequate funds: Pawar

Concerned over poor budget allocation for the farm sector, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said it may be difficult to implement the proposed Food Security Bill without adequate funds to boost agri- output, a must for increased foodgrain requirement.

"My grievance is only one -- the total budgeted provision for entire agriculture ministry is Rs 20,000 crore. And subsidy is, as of today, Rs 65,000 crore. It might go to Rs 1 lakh crore in the current year."

"Solution is that unless and until we increase production, we will not be able to implement, we will not be comfortable to implement this (Food Bill)," Pawar told private new channel CNN-IBN.

The Food Bill, which aims to provide legal right over cheap foodgrains to 63.5 per cent of the country's population, has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
When pointed out that the Food Bill was the pet project of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the minister said: "This is not a question of individual. This is a question of investment in agriculture."

The ambitious Food Bill, which is considered as a pet project of Gandhi, proposes to give legal entitlement to food to 75 per cent of the people in rural areas, including at least 46 per cent in the priority sections (which is the same as below poverty line families in the existing public distribution system).

Up to 50 per cent of people in urban centres will be covered under the proposed law, of which at least 28 per cent will be in the priority category.

Under this significant legislation, eligible people in the priority category would be entitled to seven kg of foodgrains -- comprising rice, wheat and coarse grains -- per person per month.

Implementation of the Food Bill scheme is expected to cost Rs 3.5 lakh crore and the subsidy bill is expected to be to the tune of Rs 95,000 crore. Also, the government would require 61 million tonnes of foodgrains to provide food security as against 55 million tonnes required now under the PDS.

In rural India, up to 75 per cent of the people will be covered, with at least 46 per cent under priority households (which is same as below poverty line families in the existing public distribution system).

Up to 50 per cent of people will be covered in the urban centres, with at least 28 per cent under priority category.

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