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Ahead of the next meeting of the National Advisory Council (NAC) Oct 23, a number of civil society groups Thursday urged its chairperson Sonia Gandhi to make the proposed food security act more “comprehensive” and “meaningful”.

They also called for early passage of the bill.

In a letter to Gandhi, CARE India and other groups urged that the proposed legislation should include provisions to address concerns in the critical areas of food availability, food access, food absorption, and appropriate food.

They also called for a decentralised procurement, storage and distribution system to ensure that the food security act is implemented in letter and spirit and achieve the targeted goals.

“Experts also felt that the much-awaited legislation should incorporate clauses for giving free food for those with special needs and the PDS (public distribution system) target should be the most marginalised sections, leaving the task of identifying the poor families with the local governing bodies,” said a statement by CARE India.

CARE India, which has just completed India’s largest nutritional project covering 2.4 lakh villages in 100 districts targeting 16 million mothers and children, has mustered the support of other stakeholders under the banner of National Food Security Watch for the interventions and early passage of the law.

Agreeing with the definition of food security as physical, economic and social access to a balanced diet, safe drinking water, sanitation, environmental hygiene and primary healthcare, the National Food Security Watch also called for adoption of an integrated approach that comprehensively addresses both food and nutrition security.

“We recommend that the proposed law should integrate the two concerns of food and nutrition security through comprehensively embracing certain vital ingredients of both, which would guarantee this. To begin with pulses, edible oil and iodized salt need to be added to the PDS basket, with emphasis on the supply of nutritious cereals like jowar, ragi, bajra and other ‘minor’ millets,” the letter to Gandhi said.

Supporting Sonia Gandhi’s “special commitment to the interests of the poor” in regard to food and nutrition security, the care said that “enumerating and identifying the poor in the PDS a liberal approach may be adopted so that no poor person will be excluded from the benefits of the new PDS.”

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