AGARTALA, Oct 18 (IANS): The Left Front government in Tripura Tuesday said the National Food Security (NFS) Bill is against the interests of the poor and the middle class as it weakens the public distribution system (PDS).
"We would strongly oppose the NFS bill as it would deprive the middle, lower middle class and poor people in getting foodgrain through the PDS (public distribution system)," state Food and Civil Supplies Minister Manik Dey said.
He said if the bill is passed, people belonging to above poverty line (APL) families would almost lose their right to get foodgrain and essentials through ration shops at subsidised rates.
"The election manifesto of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government had made it clear that below poverty line families would be getting rice at the rate of Rs.2 per kg but the NFS draft bill has proposed to provide maximum of 35 kg rice (7 kg per head) for a family at the rate of Rs.3 (per kg).
"But BPL families having more than five members, how will they survive with the 35 kg of rice? What would be the fate of APL families," the minister asked.
"After the enactment of the NFS Act in the present form, about 45 percent urban families and 25 percent rural households would not have ration cards," Dey said.
The minister also alleged that the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government has been trying to withdraw the PDS and encouraging black marketing of food items and essential commodities, which is leading to spiralling food prices.
The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has also announced to undertake a week-long protest from Nov 1 to demand overhauling of the draft bill.
Other provisions of the bill, one of the major focus points of the UPA government, include legal right to take home ration/meal to women, children, special groups including the destitute and homeless and disaster-affected people.
The UPA government is now seeking opinion of the state governments and all stakeholders about the proposed bill.