By: Mohan Lal Verma
The state unit of CPI (M) has opposed Shanta Kumar Committee Report, alleging that it was self-confessedly prepared under the guidance of PMO.
Mr.Tikender Singh Panwar, the State Secretariat member said in a statement that a blueprint was framed to destroy India’s public distribution, procurement and storage system in order to hand it over to market forces.
The CPI (M) has strongly opposed these recommendations and will eliminate whatever little has been achieved in addressing the continuing problem of undernourishment and malnutrition among India’s population.
It has badly hit India’s farmers and also affected the interests of food deficit states. Let this be put on the record that Mr. Shanta Kumar who was the then Union Minister was responsible for converting the universal PDS into targeted one and thus snatching the basic rights of people of this country.
The UPA Government was forced and pressureized to bring the Food Security Act (FSA), which was highly inadequate and covered 67% of population. The Shanta Kumar Committee wants to slash this down to 40 per cent which would make crores of people insecure by bringing down the amount of food grains to be distributed from over 60 million tonnes to below 40 million tonnes.
The PDS price of even this reduced the amount which according to FSA is to be three rupees for a kilo rice and two rupees for a kilo of wheat is to be raised to 50 per cent of the MSP which means that BPL sections will be deprived of lower prices and will have to pay more than double the amount.
In addition this will mean that the government will cut down on the procurement-throwing farmers at the mercy of big private agro-business companies and their middlemen, when it is known that the rise in food grains prices is linked to hoarding and speculation, and it would be disastrous to destroy the FCI and hand it over to private companies.
The CPI (M) would oppose all moves to amend and dilute FSA on the basis of these retrograde amendments. It will mobilize people and continue its struggle for a universal public distribution system and against targeting based on fraudulent estimates of BPL and APL.