EGoM to discuss proposed Food Bill on Monday

New Delhi: An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Food is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the proposed National Food Security Bill and take a view on the suggestions made by the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC) and Rangarajan Committee.

According to sources, the Food Ministry will place the reports of both the NAC and the Prime Minister`s panel headed by PMEAC Chairman C Rangarajan before the EGoM for guidance.

The Rangarajan Committee, which was set up to examine the NAC`s proposals, had differed with the NAC on the issue of sustainability of such largesse to the poor.

The NAC has suggested providing a legal entitlement to 75 per cent of the population, including both "priority" and "general" household categories.

The Rangarajan Committee has raised concern over the availability of foodgrains if a large number of beneficiaries are covered under the proposed law. The committee was in favour of providing a legal entitlement to "priority" households only.

Currently, the government supplies 35 kg of rice and wheat every month at subsidised rates to 6.52 crore BPL families through ration shops.

Under the proposed Food Security Bill, the government will give a legal entitlement to the poor for a certain quota of wheat or rice per month at a cheaper rate.

In 2009, the government had announced that it will provide 25 kg of wheat or rice per month at Rs 3 per kg to families below the poverty line (BPL).

Earlier, sources had said that a formula is being worked out by the EGoM for sharing the subsidy, under which the Centre would bear the burden of providing cheaper foodgrains to 8.1 crore poor households, while the states would chip in for another 2.9 crore households.

While the Tendulkar Committee appointed by the Planning Commission recently said there were 8.1 crore Below Poverty Line (BPL) households in the country, the states have issued 11 crore BPL ration cards.