Pawar lends support to Food Security Bill

New Delhi: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who has been strongly questioning viability of the Food Security Bill, today said the country will have enough wheat and rice stocks to implement the UPA`s flagship programme.

"This year, we will break last year`s record by reaching 250 million tonnes of foodgrains," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of Kharif Conference 2012 here.

"With this background, to implement the Food Security Bill, I don`t see any problem," he said.

Asked if the Bill would be implemented in the present form, Pawar said, "It is before Parliament. We will talk about it when Parliament gives a final shape to it".

The National Food Security Bill, considered as pet project of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, was presented in Parliament in the winter session and has been referred to the Standing Committee for recommendations. It is expected to come up for approval in the Budget session starting from March 12.

Pawar had raised concerns about the high subsidy outgo and foodgrain requirement to implement the proposed law on several occasions, including in the Cabinet meeting when the bill was taken up for approval.

Last month, too, he had said it would be difficult to implement the proposed Food Security Act with existing distribution system and suggested massive reforms.

"I will be failing in my duty if I do not emphasise the fact that the Food Security Act will never succeed in achieving its goal in letter and spirit, if we try to push the same through the existing PDS apparatus," Pawar had said.

The minister had said that "a massive process re-engineering" was required to make the Public Distribution System (PDS) compatible with the proposed law.

The Food Security Act aims to provide legal entitlement over subsidised foodgrains to 63.5 per cent of the country`s population.

When asked about a report that the government plans to buy land abroad to do farming activities, there is no such proposal from the government side but would encourage the private companies in doing so.