Food Ministers and Secretaries from the States will meet in New Delhi on October 3 for discussing the finer points of implementation of the Food Security Bill that has been passed.

“The meeting will discuss modes for improving the public distribution system and plugging the loopholes in the foodgrains distribution system,” said Union Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and Public Distribution K.V. Thomas on Sunday.

The two-day meeting would attempt to thrash out the problems the States could be encountering while implementing the programme, Prof. Thomas said.

The Minister was taking part in a meet-the-press programme at Ernakulam Press Club.

The burden of subsidies that the government had to bear on account of the programme could be reduced considerably if the leakage of foodgrains through the PDS was checked. “The leakage is currently to the tune of 35 per cent which will be brought down systematically. The subsidy for the implementation of the Food Security Bill will come to the tune of Rs. 1.30 lakh crore,” he said.

States had been asked to build intermediate storage systems where at least four-month stock of foodgrains could be stored. Besides Kerala, a few other States too don’t have the facility. The cost of setting up these storage facilities would be shared by the Centre, he said.

82-crore people will benefit

“The programme will benefit 82-crore people of the country which would come to 67 per cent of the population. The rest of the population too will be ensured foodgrains. Foodgrains will be distributed through the public distribution system. Social audits have been proposed for the distribution of foodgrains and selection of beneficiaries of the programme. Self Help Groups like Kudumbarsee will play a significant role in the social audit,” he said.

Mr. Thomas allayed fears that States like Kerala would lose their share of foodgrains. The quota of foodgrains to Kerala would be protected. At a later stage, edible oil, pulses and drinking water would be brought under the ambit of the programme.

Right to housing would be the next major programme of the United Progressive Alliance government, he said.

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