New Delhi, Sep 2: The food schemes of states will be protected under the National Food Security Bill, Food Minister K.V. Thomas said Monday and noted that the government will incorporate constructive suggestions of members while framing the rules for implementing the legislation.
Replying to the debate on the National Food Security Bill in the Rajya Sabha Monday night, Thomas said the government “had taken all the challenges (on the bill)”.
He said the central government was bearing much more subsidy burden than the states in distributing food grain to the poor.
Thomas said the food grain being distributed by states under their schemes were given at a concessional rate by the central government.
Ruling out demand of following models like Chhattisgarh’s which have higher percentage of population getting subsidised food grain, Thomas said that demands were different among states.
However, he said the schemes of states will be protected.
Allaying apprehensions of opposition members that grain allocations of 18 states will go down, Thomas said that current allocations of these states will be protected.
He said the government will procure 30 percent of food grain produced in the country to meet requirements of the bill.
The minister said the pregnant women and lactating mothers were entitled to nutritious meals and maternity benefit of at least Rs.6,000 for six months.
He said it was “practically not possible” at present to implement the provisions of nutritious food for the entire population of the country.
A total of 37 members took part in the debate.
Thomas said both the centre and states have to move together on effective implementation of the Food Security Bill.
“Unless we work together, targeted public distribution system cannot be implemented effectively,” he said.
Raising queries at the end of debate, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley asked whether the bill will subsume “superior schemes” of some states.
He said the bill was repackaging of existing schemes and slammed the government for bringing an ordinance before the bill.