Before he skipped Cabinet, Pawar isolated on food Bill
The new proposal seeks to have a blanket provision to provide 25 kg highly subsidised foodgrain to a family of five per month, covering 67 per cent of the population. Pawar was the lone voice to argue that not only was this bad economics, but regressive as well as it did not entail concomitant investment in farm infrastructure.
The new proposal seeks to meet the suggestions by some current and a few former members of the National Advisory Council headed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Pawar, who had flagged off his reservations over the food guarantee law in a letter to PM Manmohan Singh in July last year, reiterated the same at the high-level meeting of the Cabinet that was attended by Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Food Minister K V Thomas.
Pawar talked about the sustainability of the subsidy burden as well as the legally binding requirement of annual procurement of over 62 million tonnes, and its adverse impact on the domestic grain market. The legally binding annual food subsidy burden would be over Rs 1.18 lakh crore.
Thomas, however, was learnt to have brushed aside his concerns, instead saying that the revisions needed to procure over 62 million tonnes of annual foodgrain could