Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Starvation - 150 Poorest Districts Must Get Grains At Low Rates - SC

New Delhi: In an attempt to make right to food meaningful, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked its high-powered committee (HPC) to decide within three weeks whether cheap food grains under Public Distribution System (PDS) be provided to BPL families at super subsidised rates in 150 poorest districts.
A bench said “not a single person should be allowed to die of starvation” and told the Centre that the decision of the HPC would be binding on the government. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said the state governments were not lifting the additional allocation under PDS as the Union government was unwilling to deliver it at Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) rates.
Under the targeted PDS (TPDS), wheat and rice are available at cheap rates to one crore poorest of the poor families (AAY card holders) and 6.52 crore BPL families.
Rice/wheat per kg for AAY card holders is available at Rs 3/2 a kg and for BPL family at Rs 5.65/4.15. Both categories are entitled to 35 kg of food grains per month per family. Additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran said the HPC should decide the issue after hearing the Centre. The court agreed.
The Justice Wadhwa Committee was aware that supply of food grains at AAY rate would place a huge burden on the exchequer. But, it argued that “right to food is important for survival of citizens, at least in the poorest districts”. It said this recommendation was a temporary measure for distribution of the five million tonnes of additional food grains as directed by the SC.
“But it must be ensured that food grain is provided to all eligible BPL families and that no ineligible family gets the food grains. For the said purpose the exclusion criteria is to be strictly enforced,” the committee said.

SC praises computerized PDS in Guj, Chhattisgarh

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday praised the computerised public distribution system in two BJP-ruled states, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. A bench said these must be taken as model for the entire country. It suggested a “social audit and people’s charter” provision in the grievance redressal system under the computerised PDS, as it would help arrest pilferage and diversion of food grains to the open market. The court expressed its dismay over the states not lifting the additional allocation of food grains and asked the chief secretaries to specify within two weeks the requirement of the poorest districts in their respective states. TNN

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