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Demand for stronger National Food Security Act at Jantar Mantar dharna
Tuesday, 18 December, 2012, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
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Hundreds of women, men and children from eleven states – representing the Right to Food Campaign – assembled at Delhi's Jantar Mantar for three days (December 13-15, 2012) to reiterate their demand for a comprehensive National Food Security Act.

During the last four years, the group has held similar agitations and protests in various parts of the country to ensure that the government meets this demand, but feel the government is turning a deaf ear to it.

Right to Food Campaign said, “The National Food Security Bill, which was tabled in Parliament in December 2011, has several loopholes. Although the same was forwarded to a standing committee, no action has been taken to plug the loopholes and release an amended Bill.”

“Instead, the government seems to have forgotten the Act and is trying to hoodwink the public with false promises of mass cash transfers before the 2014 elections. The accelerated drive for cash transfers is a major threat to the public distribution system (PDS),” they said.

Testimony after testimony during the dharna conveyed the importance of a well-functioning PDS for people who live on the margin of subsistence. The little rice, wheat and other commodities that people get from the PDS are hard-won entitlements, and we are not prepared to give them up.

The group came up with their version of a comprehensive National Food Security Act, which  includes the following:

(i)    A universal PDS that provides cereals, millets, pulses and oil (with quantities based of ICMR norms);

(ii)    Appropriate MSPs and decentralised procurement of rice, wheat and millets;

(iii)     Universalisation with quality of ICDS including the provision of nutritious locally prepared food for all children, and

(iv)     Other essential entitlements including social security pensions for vulnerable persons (the aged, single women, and persons with disabilities), school mid-day meals, maternity entitlements, and community kitchens in urban areas

It stated that the struggle for a strong National Food Security would continue until these demands are met, not only because food security is a matter of concern, but also because we live in a society where everyone’s basic needs must be taken care of as a matter of social responsibility.

“The next step in this struggle will be a national convention on the right to food, to be held in Delhi during the budget session of Parliament,” Right to Food Campaign stated.
 
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