APL families can be considered for food security: PMEAC

PMEAC chairman C Rangarajan suggested giving BPL households 30 kg of foodgrains per month and to APL households 15 kg per month

The Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) chairman C Rangarajan today said that people above the poverty line can also be considered for the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) pet food security scheme under which subsidised foodgrains will be available at ration shops as a legal right, reports PTI.

"Another alternative that one can think of is to give to the BPL (below poverty line) households 30 kg per month and to APL (above poverty line) households 15 kg per month. This will, in a way, ensure that all households will be assured of some minimum availability of foodgrains," Mr Rangarajan said at a conference organised by the ministry of food in New Delhi.

The Food Security Act as proposed by the UPA government assures rice/wheat at Rs3 a kg to BPL families as a matter of legal right. The issue of quantity has been kept open, even though 25 kg was proposed earlier.

The Left parties had also been demanding universalisation of the Public Distribution System (PDS) under which subsidised foodgrains are made available at ration shops on equal terms.

However, Mr Rangarajan said that there would have to be different prices for BPL and APL households in order to keep the subsidy burden under control.

By present estimates, the number of BPL households is 6.5 crore and the APL 11.5 crore. An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, is examining different aspects of the proposed food security legislation, including the number of eligible households and the monthly quantity.

Mr Rangarajan said if APL families are included in the food security scheme, total foodgrains requirement would amount to 50 million tonnes.

"This is feasible in the context of procurement in the recent years, which has been in the range of 55-59 million tonnes," he said.

Mr Rangarajan also said that the other approach to food security was to focus attention exclusively on the BPL families, though there are disputes regarding the number of BPL families.

Yet another solution could be that the surplus foodgrains after meeting the requirement of the BPL families can be given to the APL households.

"Those who are in favour of the universal PDS feel that the distinction between BPL and APL at the margin is very thin and therefore, we should cover all households," Mr Rangarajan said.

Ultimately, the answer to real food security to all lies in increasing farm productivity, he added.


SBI to revive village adoption scheme

The focus of the scheme is to achieve 100% financial inclusion for all BPL families. It would also seek to promote self-help groups, farm clubs with the participation of NGOs and other development agencies

India's largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI) is planning to revive its village adoption scheme under corporate social responsibility programme, reports PTI.

The decades-old scheme, now rechristened as "SBI Ka Apna Gaon", will seek active support of village panchayats in Uttarakhand and other states for its revival.

Its main purpose is to achieve 100% financial inclusion for all below poverty line (BPL) families. It would also seek to promote self-help groups (SHGs), farm clubs with the participation of NGOs and other development agencies.

The scheme would focus on credit requirements of all eligible rural households and link community services with SBI banking services.

The bank has already started identifying villages in this regard and has organised a detailed survey wherein the bank's staff members would act as bridge between the villages and the bank.

In Uttarakhand, SBI would work in tandem with the state government, which has also launched a similar "Atal Adarsh Gram Yojna" in all 670 nayay panchayats. One village in each nayay panchayat will be identified under the SBI scheme, with the thrust on development of rural social and infrastructure facilities to remove regional imbalances.

"In our various meetings with the government, we have been given the task to provide banking facilities in all these villages by the state government", said an SBI official.

Meanwhile, chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has instructed top officials to work in close partnership with banks for strengthening facilities in villages.


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