Food and Civil Supplies Minister C. Divakaran has asked Union Minister of State for Food and Public Distribution K.V. Thomas to come up with concrete measures to ensure availability of ration articles to the largest possible segment of the population instead of making populist announcements.

In a statement here on Sunday, Mr. Divakaran said the Union Minister's statement that 80 per cent of the country's population would be covered under the proposed Food Security Act would not satiate the hunger of millions without concrete steps on the ground. The Centre had been talking about the Food Security Act for years now, but without any concrete measures for the same. The Union Minister's statement was meant only to hide his embarrassment over the State's announcement to provide rice to 5 lakh more persons at Rs.2 a kg, the Minister said.

The Food Minister demanded to know why the Centre had reduced Kerala's ration quota from 1,13,000 tonnes to 17,000 tonnes if it was really serious about bringing 80 per cent of the population under the Food Security Act. All that the Centre had done, instead of restoring the State's ration rice quota, was to make ad hoc allotment of above poverty line (APL) category rice on one or two occasions, this despite food grains rotting in the Central godowns, he said.

Mr. Divakaran pointed out that the Centre could hardly be expected to do this when it did not have exact figures about the total number of below poverty line (BPL) families in the country. While the 61{+s}{+t} round of the National Sample Survey had put it at 28.03 per cent, which had been accepted by the Planning Commission, the N.C. Saxena Committee had pegged it at 50 per cent, the Argun Sengupta Committee at 77 per cent, the Suresh Tendulkar Committee at 38 per cent.

The State had requested several times to the Centre to leave estimation of BPL families to it, but in vain.