The Parliamentary has approved the landmark Food Security Bill, which gives the right to cheap foodgrains to two-thirds of India's 1.2 billion population, making it the largest such scheme globally. The Lok Sabha had passed the bill on Aug 26 while the Rajya Sabha cleared it tonight after 237 amendments tabled by opposition parties were rejected or not pursued.
Under the law, the beneficiaries would get 5 kg of grain per person per month which would include rice at Rs.3 per kg, wheat at Rs.2 per kg and coarse grains at Re 1 per kg.
- 45% rural and 50 % urban population entitled to 5 kg foodgrains per month at Rs.3, Rs.2, Re 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains, respectively.
- The identification of eligible households has been left to the states.
- Pregnant and lactating mothers to get nutritious meals and maternity benefit of at least Rs.6, 000 for 6 months.
- The central government will provide funds to states in case of shortage of foodgrain.
- The current foodgrain allocation of the states will be protected by the central government.
- The state governments will provide food security allowance to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of foodgrain.
- Public distribution system to be revamped.
- The eldest woman in the household, 18 years or more, will be the head of the household for the issue of the ration card.
- There will be state and district level redress mechanisms.
The bill will now go to Prez Pranab Mukherjee for his assent before it becomes law. The legislation, a pet welfare measure of Sonia Gandhi and a part of the Congress election manifesto of 2009, is expected to be a game-changer for the party ahead of the assembly polls in five states this year and the 2014 parliamentary elections. The measure, expected to cost around Rs.1.30 lakh crore annually, has been criticised on the ground that it would further stress a slowing down economy and a sliding rupee.