New legislation to check food wastage unlikely

The Centre is unlikely to tighten the law to curb wastage of food in the weddings and other social gatherings, as a study commissioned by it suggested that a new law might not be effective in dealing with the issue.

Guests pack food in a plastic bag to take home during a lunch at a marriage ceremony. AP file photo

The study commissioned by the Ministry of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution instead stressed raising awareness and educating people against wastage of food and advised the Union Government to launch a vigorous campaign. It also opposed the suggestion earlier made by a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) to enact a new law on the lines of Pakistan’s One Dish Order. Food Minister K V Thomas wrote to HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, requesting the latter to consider including importance of food and ill-effects of its wastage in school curricula. “I have written to the HRD minister to include lessons on the need to avoid wastage of food in the school curricula,” said Thomas.

The Union Minister had earlier said that the government might consider enacting a new law to check wastage of food, which had been as high as 15-20 per cent in social gatherings. He had also said that India, which had ranked 67 in Global Hunger Index in 2011, could not afford such a huge loss of food in weddings and other social events.

Raina’s report said majority were against new law to control food wastage, but ranked awareness programmes as the first option. The second preferred option was to restrict the number of dishes. “Limiting the number of guests and bringing about a new legislation were the least preferred option,” he wrote in his report, which was submitted to the Food Minister recently.

The study also analysed the effectiveness of the Guest Control Order 1960, Assam Guest Control Order 1966, Rajasthan Guest Control Order 1972, Mizoram Guest Control Order and the Jammu and Kashmir Guest Control Order 2004. It also assessed the effectiveness of the Pakistan’s One Dish Order in controlling wastage of food.

According to Raina, experiences both in India and Pakistan, suggest that “any statutory or legislative mechanism to control food wastage or regulate social gatherings” would not be “effective” and rather would be “difficult to enforce and lead to harassment and corruption”.

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