Concerned over poor budget allocation for the farm sector, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said it might be difficult to implement the proposed Food Security Bill without adequate funds to boost agri- output, a must for increased foodgrain requirement.
"My grievance is only one -- the total budgeted provision for entire agriculture ministry is Rs 20,000 crore. And subsidy is, as of today, Rs 65,000 crore. It might go to Rs 1 lakh crore in the current year."
"Solution is that unless and until we increase production, we will not be able to implement, we will not be comfortable to implement this [Food Bill]," Pawar told a private new channel.
The Food Bill, which aims to provide legal right over cheap foodgrains to 63.5% of the country's population, has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
When pointed out that the Food Bill was the pet project of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the minister said: "This is not a question of individual. This is a question of investment in agriculture."
The ambitious Food Bill, which is considered as a pet project of Gandhi, proposes to give legal entitlement to food to 75% of the people in rural areas, including at least 46% in the priority sections (which is the same as below poverty line families in the existing public distribution system).
Up to 50% of people in urban centres will be covered under the proposed law, of which at least 28% will be in the priority category.
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However, the finance minister maintains that some element of subsidy will have to remain for a large section