Union food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said yesterday that the central government would consult the state governments on the proposed Food Security Bill as the latter had to execute the law.
Responding to a question as to how he proposed to implement the recommendation of the National Advisory Council (NAC) for phased universalisation of the Public Distribution System, Pawar said, he had not received NAC recommendation and first he would have to see what the final recommendation was. He added he would have to assess and consult the state governments as they would be executing the food security law.
Pawar was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the Foundation Day celebrations of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR).
He said the food security draft would be in the public domain once it was finalised. The final draft of the bill, to be prepared by the Food Ministry (in line with the NAC recommendations), would be referred to the union cabinet for approval after which it would be introduced in parliament.
He, however, added, ''I don't think it will come in the monsoon session of Parliament.''
Referring to president Pratibha Patil's address to both Houses of Parliament, wherein she said that the government would provide 25 kg of foodgrains at Rs3 per kg to poor families, Pawar said if there was an improvement (on entitlement and beneficiaries), the government had every right to go for it, but no decision had been taken so far.
On 14 July, the NAC recommended phased, time-bound universalisation of foodgrains entitlements across the country, starting with a fourth of the most disadvantaged districts or blocks where every household would be entitled to receive 35 kg of foodgrains per month at Rs3 per kg.
Reacting to the decision M S Swaminathan, noted agricultural scientist and NAC member, who was present said that was the only way of looking at foodgrains production, procurement, storage and preservation.
Meanwhile, according to analysts, government could impose duty to discourage cheap wheat imports following a bumper crop that has left godowns flush with stocks and could also allow export of some varieties of non-basmati rice.
They say the decisions on import duty and allowing exports were kept in abeyance due to worries in government quarters over the performance of the monsoons this kharif sowing season. The government was keen that the detailed second-stage monsoon forecast of the meteorological department be released it pressed ahead with the matter, they add.