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Food Bill To Be Implemented By Year-end

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Sitting on surplus foodgrain stock, the Indian government on Wednesday said it plans to roll out the proposed National Food Security Bill by this year-end.

The Bill, which seeks to provide legal entitlement over subsidised foodgrain to 63.5 per cent of the country's population, is being vetted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

"We intend to implement the Food Security Bill by the end of December, 2012," Food Minister K V Thomas told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by YES Bank and The Hindu Business Line.

He said taking into account the production estimate of Agriculture Ministry, the country seems to have enough foodgrain to meet the requirement under the proposed bill as well as exports till 2014.

Thomas said his Ministry is looking into the new poverty figures, which would be the basis for deciding the number of beneficiaries over subsidies grains.

Foodgrain requirement under the proposed bill is pegged at 63 million tonne, eight million tonne higher than the current requirement of the public distribution system (PDS).

Thomas said the Food Ministry has started the process of framing rules for execution of the Bill, which is expected to be passed in the next session of Parliament.

For smooth implementation of the bill, the Ministry has already initiated steps to modernise the PDS and to augment storage facilities, he said.

The government godowns are overflowing with grain. India is looking at bumper foodgrain production of 250.42 million tonne in the 2011-12 crop year (July-June), which includes 102.75 million tonne rice and 88.31 million tonne wheat.

The foodgrain stock with Food Corporation of India (FCI), India's nodal agency for foodgrain procurement and distribution, is higher by 18 per cent at 54.52 million tonne as on March 1.