The centre will soon launch the pilot project of distributing five kilogram packets of rice to the consumers in Kerala through the Public Distribution System as part of supplying quality rice and checking irregularities, Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K. V. Thomas has said.

This will replace the existing practice of transporting food grains in 50 kg bags which caused loss of grains and irregularities.

Presiding over the function to inaugurate the new godown of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) at Arakulam near Thodupuzha on Saturday, Mr Thomas said that the system is being implemented as per the Food Security Act.

The packing process of the five kilogram rice packets will begin in Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

Sugar will also come under the Food Security Act which will benefit 82 crore people in the country, he said adding that this will bring them on par with the 32 crore people belonging to Below the Poverty Line category.

The commission given to the ration dealers will be increased, he said. There are allegations that ration dealers involved in irregularities due to unattractive returns, he said.

The centre will also support the state government in setting up small godowns near to ration shops to prevent irregularities, he said.

The godowns of these categories of 100 to 500 tons can be set up through the panchayats and Kudumbasree units, Mr Thomas said.

The implementation of the Act will help the State to save about Rs 600 crore annually, he said.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, delivered the inaugural message through video conferencing.

Mr Chandy said that the venture is part of the Centre's commitment to increase the storage facilities of the FCI in the State.

The UPA government is giving support to the State and the State government will set up godowns for foodgrain with the support of NABARD, he said.

Mr Thomas inaugurated the new godown having a capacity of 5,000 tonnes on behalf of the Chief Minister.

State PDS Minister Anoop Jacob, Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph, P.T. Thomas M.P and FCI Chairman C Vishwanath also spoke at the function.

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