The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The Shanta Kumar Committee report, which was self-confessedly prepared under the guidance of the PMO, is a blueprint to destroy India’s public distribution, procurement and storage systems and to hand it over to market forces. The CPI(M) strongly opposes these recommendations which will eliminate whatever little has been achieved in addressing the continuing problem of undernourishment and malnutrition among India’s population. It will badly hitIndia’s farmers and also affect the interests of food deficit States.
Under pressure the UPA Government was forced to bring the Food Security Act (FSA) which though highly inadequate covered 67 per cent of the population. The Shanta Kumar Committee wants to slash this down to 40 per cent. This will make crores of people food insecure by bringing down the amount of foodgrain to be distributed from over 60 million tonnes to below 40 million tonnes.
The PDS price of even this reduced amount which according to the FSA is to be three rupees for a kilo rice and two rupees for a kilo of wheat is to be raised to 50 per cent of the MSP which means that BPL sections will be deprived of lower prices and will have to pay more than double the amount.
In addition this will mean that Government will cut down on procurement throwing farmers into distress and at the mercy of big private agro-business companies and their middle men.
When it is known that the rise in foodgrain prices is linked to hoarding and speculation, to destroy the FCI and hand it over to private companies will be disastrous.
The CPI(M) will oppose all moves to amend and dilute the FSA on the basis of these retrograde amendments. It will mobilise the people and continue its struggle for a universal public distribution system and against targeting based on fraudulent estimates of BPL and APL.
CPI(M) opposes Shantakumar committee report