Left asks govt to universalise PDS

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Left parties on Saturday asked the government to universalise the public distribution system and distribution of excess foodstock at BPL prices to check the high food inflation.

Top leaders of the four parties, which ended a five-day protest on the issue of 'food security for all' here on Friday, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here and submitted a memorandum also demanding minimum allocation of 35 kgs of foodgrains per month at the rate of Rs two per kg.

"We told him (Singh) that the distinction between APL and BPL be abolished and everyone, excluding the rich, be included in the PDS," CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told PTI.

The Prime Minister indicated that this option could be considered by the government, Karat, who was accompanied at the meeting by S. Sudhakar Reddy (CPI), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc) and Abani Roy (RSP), said.

Maintaining that around five crore tonnes of surplus stocks were available in government godowns, he said already 25 lakh tonnes have been exported by private traders who had been given foodgrains at subsidised prices.

"We believe that these foodgrains should be distributed universally.

Particularly at a time when India is facing one of its worst droughts, export of foodgrains is shortsighted and will only benefit big agri businesses," Karat said, asking government to stop exports and distribute the excess stock to the affected in the drought-hit states at BPL prices.

When the Prime Minister told the Left delegation that the Standing Committee was studying the Food Security Bill, the leaders suggested that necessary amendments be brought in the measure and tabled in Parliament in the Monsoon Session starting next week.

The four parties have decided to picket FCI godowns on September 12 to demand distribution of excess stocks to the poor and universalisation of PDS among other things.

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