After five days of nationwide campaign for ” food security to all”, the four Left parties on Saturday petitioned the Prime Minister to universalise the PDS ( public distribution system) by supplying a minimum 35 kg of foo
d grains per month at Rs 2 a kg to all except the rich.
Abolish the distinction between APL ( above poverty line) and BPL ( below poverty line) as both were hit by the high food inflation, the Left leaders told Dr Manmohan Singh, suggesting that around 50 million tonnes of excess food stocks lying with the government should be better distributed among the APL and BPL families.
Those accompanying CPIM general secretary Prakash Karat to plead with the PM to speed up the food security measures were S Sudhakar Reddy ( CPI), Debabrata Biswas ( Forward Bloc) and Abani Roy ( RSP).
They also warned against a move in the offing for cash transfers to the needy as they said the people would divert funds for other pressing needs and the high food inflation will erode the value of the amount given as relief. Expressing concern over the private traders exporting some 2.5 million tonnes of food grains supplied to them at subsidised rates, Karat urged the PM to immediately ban exports.
The Left leaders also wanted the Minimum Support Prices ( MSP) at which the government buys food grains from farmers fixed on the basis of the actual cost of production as recommended by the M S Swaminathan Commission.
When the Prime Minister told them that the Food Security Bill was pending before a Parliament standing committee, the Left leaders said it requires drastic changes and passage in the upcoming monsoon session. They are particularly against the concept of the targeted PDS as it excludes a vast section which requires subsidised food grains. They also conveyed to the PM a public dismay at the Planning Commission drawing the poverty line at Rs 26 for an adult in rural India and Rs 32 in urban India.