Jan Sansad: Activists oppose cash transfer
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Immediate enactment of the National Food Security Act is the need of the hour but the provision enabling transition to cash transfers in lieu of food should be removed and welfare schemes should not be linked to UID, according to a Jan Sansad or people's assembly organised at Jantar Mantar.
Days after the government touted the cash for subsidy scheme as a "game-changer", the manifesto of the five-day Jan Sansad Friday unequivocally debunked the idea of cash trasfers to replace public distribution system (PDS).
Among those who participated in the deliberations were Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Nikhil Dey and Usha Ramanathan. Ritika Khera of IIT Delhi made a presentation on the cash for subsidy pilot at Kotkasim in Rajasthan and called it a spectacular failure.
On Wednesday, Ramanathan had described the idea of cash transfers as "genocidal" as they would deprive large numbers of the poor of their daily bread. There were concerns about how the cash transfer would factor in inflation but a bigger fear the speakers expressed was about cartelisation in rural areas when with the PDS shop closed, traders would come together to artificially inflate food prices.
Aruna Roy rubbished the idea that cash transfers would curb corruption.
CPM's Brinda Karat and BJP's Prakash Javdekar expressed solidarity with the opposition to the cash transfer scheme and promised to flag it in Parliament.
Timelines unrealistic, says NAC member
While PM Manmohan Singh is aggressively pushing the direct cash transfer scheme, a member of Sonia Gandhi-led NAC and Planning Commission member Mihir Shah has voiced apprehensions over the time-lines fixed by the PMO and suggested the government to clear fears of a section of civil society over its impact on PDS. "It is clear that much work remains to be done, especially on issuing Aadhaar numbers, financial inclusion and Internet connectivity. These three cannot be achieved within the specified timelines," Shah is learnt to have communicated to the PM.