Discussions on PDS with states Feb 8-9: Thomas

January 13th, 2012 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) Gearing up to implement Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s dream legislation - the National Food Security Bill, the government Friday said it has called a meeting of state agriculture and food ministers Feb 8-9 to discuss ways to improve the public distribution system.

“We will discuss improving PDS and procurement of grains with state ministers,” Food Minister K.V Thomas told reporters.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar will also address the PDS meet.

The government has earmarked Rs.4,000 crore towards digitisation of the PDS, which provides subsidised grains to the beneficiaries.

“We have asked the states to complete the process by Dec 2012. Rs.4,000 crore has been earmarked for the purpose,” Thomas said.

He said with digitisation of PDS on in many states, the number of ration cards has come down from 10.56 crore to 7.56 crore, which meant a reduction in the number of bogus cards.

The minister further said additional storage facility of 15 million tonnes would be ready by end of 2013. He said the Planning Commission has authorised high tech godowns of 2 million tonne capacity to be built by the Food Corporation of India.

In order to facilitate faster movement of grains across the states, the food ministry will also create a special company for greater integration with the railways ministry.

In order to help onion farmers, who some times suffer due to crop damage, the government is planning to set up a special fund. Thomas said he will discuss the proposal with Pawar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

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