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No food bill in current Parliament session: KV Thomas

The food minister said consultations are on to sort out problems raised by states and the bill in all likelihood would come in Parliament for approval in the next monsoon session.

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No food bill in current Parliament session: KV Thomas
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Food Minister KV Thomas on Thursday ruled out clearance of Food Security Bill in the ongoing Budget session of Parliament saying consultations are still on to sort out problems raised by states and that it can be taken up only in the next monsoon session.

"How can it come in the Budget session... Parliamentary Standing Committee is yet to submit its report," Thomas said on the sidelines of a function of Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry in Delhi.

National Food Security Bill, 2011, which was introduced in Lok Sabha by Thomas at the fag end of winter session was expected to come up discussion and passage in the Budget session.

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food to which the Bill was referred after introduction is yet to vet the proposed legislation that promises subsidised food security to over 63% of the country's population, he said.

Thomas said consultations are on to sort out problems raised by states on the important legislation and the bill in all likelihood would come in Parliament for approval in the next monsoon session.

The minister said he is in regular consultation with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the scheme which is considered as her pet project.

West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and some other states have pointed out to problems in implementation of the programme.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has also in the past expressed worry over procurement of foodgrains for the scheme. Concerns were also raised on the enhanced subsidy bill for implementation of the legislation which will scale it up by an additional Rs27,663 crore.

Asked about the concerns raised by states, Thomas said some of them have pointed to transportation cost on foodgrains being carted to the PDS shops which is presently put on the consumers.

Besides, issues like adding storage capacity and computerisation of PDS outlets are also being addressed for smooth execution of proposed Food Act considered as greatest experiment of providing subsidised food to poor, he added.

Thomas said as part of the ongoing drive against bogus ration cards, nearly 2 crore fake ration cards have been deleted bringing down the total number of cardholders eligible for subsidised staple foodgrains to 18 crore now.

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