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Food Security Bill Introduced In Lok Sabha

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The landmark Food Security Bill, that gives legal right to cheaper foodgrains to 63.5 per cent of the country's population, was introduced in the Lok Sabha Thursday.

Considered to be the world's largest experiment in providing food security to poor, the Bill was introduced by Food Minister K V Thomas amid thumping of desks by Congress members led by party chief Sonia Gandhi, who has been strongly pushing the ambitious social legislation.

Implementation of the scheme is expected to cost Rs 3.5 lakh crore and subsidy bill is expected to be to the tune of Rs 95,000 crore.

The National Food Security Bill, 2011, provides for coverage of 75 per cent of the people in rural areas, including at least 46 per cent under priority sections (which is same as below poverty line families in the existing public distribution system).

Up to 50 per cent of people will be covered in the urban centres, with at least 28 per cent under priority category.

Under the significant legislation, people eligible under priority category would be entitled to 7 kg of foodgrains comprising rice, wheat and coarse grains per person per month.

Rice will be provided at Rs 3, wheat at Rs 2 and coarse grains at Re 1 per kg.

General category would get at least 3 kg of grains at a rate not exceeding 50 per cent of the minimum support price.

The bill will be referred to the Parliamentary Committee for scrutiny.

Under the provisions of the bill, every pregnant woman and lactating mother would be entitled to meal free of charge during pregnancy and six months after the child birth through the local anganwadi.

It also provides for maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 per month for a period of six months. Besides, every child up to the age of 14 years shall have entitlement to nutritional needs.

In case of children in the age group of six months to six years, appropriate meal would be provided free of charge through local anganwadi to meet nutritional standards.

For children in the 6-14 age group one mid-day meal would be given free of charge everyday except during holidays in all schools run by local bodies, government and government aided schools up to class VIII.

Special groups consisting of all destitute or homeless persons shall be entitled to at least one meal every day free of charge. Besides, all homeless persons shall be entitled to affordable meals at community kitchens.

In case of any emergency or disaster situation, affected households would be provided two meals free of charge for a period of up to three months from the date of disaster.

As part of women empowerment, it says women of 18 years of age or above would be head of the household for the purpose of issue of ration cards.