Activists reject food security bill

Activists of the Right to Food Campaign here Wednesday rejected the National Food Security Bill, which was approved by the union cabinet Tuesday.

Activists of the campaign, a conglomeration of several social activist groups, said they would continue their agitation at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi.
 
Here is the full statement:
 
More than 500 people sitting at the Jantar Mantar on behalf of the Right to Food Campaign rejected the National Food Security Bill,  2013 passed by the cabinet of the UPA Government on Tuesday.
 
NO TIME FRAME FOR IMPLEMENTATION
 
People were shocked to learn that bill passed showed that the law will not be applied in one stroke. The language of the law is that different dates may be appointed for different states and different provisions for the implementation of the Act.  This clearly means that there is no time frame for full implementation or objective criteria for phased implementation. It means the government in power has the choice to decide which state, what provisions need to be implemented. We condemn this as being against the fundamental rights of the people and the federal nature of the Indian state.  IT also clearly shows that the Government really is not committed towards ensuring the end of food insecurity in the teeming millions of the country. 

FLAWED FRAMEWORK
 
The campaign feels strongly that there is a basic flaw in the framework where there has been a complete denial by the Government to provision as guarantees for farmers livelihoods, decentralised, production, guaranteeing minimum support price along with decentralised procurement and decentralised storage. These questions remain unaddressed and only lip service has been given to them by putting them in the schedule III of the bill. 
 
PDS A MOCKERY
 
The most disturbing clause is the provisioning of only 5 kgs cereals to each individual. Which means a consumption of only 165 gms per day per person for 30 days, from the PDS of cereals. When the ICMR norm is that a minimum of 14 kgs ought to consumed by an adult and 7 kgs by a child. Provisioning for only 5 kgs cereal not only makes a mockery of the intent of the bill, but also goes against the Supreme Court order which had made 35 kgs per household as PDS entitlement. Is this a Food Security Bill or a Food insecurity Bill, we would like to ask. Especially when the godowns are bursting will food grains this entitlement could have been raised. 
 
Secondly, regarding the PDS. We are clear that provisioning for only 67% of the populations as eligible households for the PDS, leaves out more than 33 % of the people who need the food. This would continue the legacy of exclusion which the earlier APL-BPL model had created, where large number of families were excluded. 
 
Similarly the silence on Pulses (Dal) and Oils (Tel) shows that the food security bill is devoid of nutrition provisions for the hundred crore families of this country 
 
TWO CHILD NORM IN MATERNAL ENTITLEMENTS AN INTENT To CRIMINALISING WOMEN WITH MORE THAN TWO CHILDREN
 
While we are glad that the provision of the ICDS has been restored, however, the condition of two child norm for maternal entitlements for women after delivery  remains although they have tried to be ambiguous and state that it will be according to the specifications of the Central – Government scheme. The scheme has two child norm so it stays. This clause is almost criminalisng women and higher order children by denying them this maternal entitlement. 
 
ICDS AN INITIATIVE TO HAND OVER CHIlDREN’S FOOD TO CONTRACTORS 
 
What is very disturbing is the continuation of the Schedule 2 for the ICDS and MDMS,  which retains energy dense food and nutritional standards of the Women and Child Development ministry, which can only be met if there is centralized factory based food production. The orders of the Supreme Court of keeping contractors and corporate out of food schemes for children would be reversed as this opens  the door for contractors and companies in supply of food in ICDS, in Take Home Rations in particular. Also the effort to provide local food by Self Help Groups and poor village women also finishes.
 
NOT EVEN FOR THE DESTITUTES
 
The Complete omission of community kitchens, starvation protocol and other support to vulnerable and destitute shows the complete lack of commitment of the Government towards the poorest who need the cheap food most. 
 
Grievance redressal continues to begin at the district level which is ridculous as people with grievances need redressal at the panchayat and gram sabha level. 
 
Since UID and cash transfers were there in the original 2011 Bill, they continue to be there. Their omission was demanded by the campaign.  
 
Signed By:
 
Kavita Srivastava, Anuradha Talwar, Father Jothi SJ, Ashok Khandelwal, Balram, Neeta Hardekar, Rupesh, Sejal 
(On behalf of the campaign)