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Thomas to meet Jaya over differences on food bill

In the backdrop of Jayalalithaa`s strong opposition to Centre`s proposed Food Security Bill, KV Thomas said he will meet her next month.



Chennai: In the backdrop of Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister J Jayalalithaa`s strong opposition to Centre`s
proposed Food Security Bill, Union Minister of State for Food
K V Thomas on Wednesday said he will meet her next month to discuss
the "differences" as the matter can be resolved through talks.

"I will have discussions with the Chief Minister in the
first or second week of February over issues raised by the
Tamil Nadu government," Thomas told reporters here.

Jayalalithaa had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on December 20, objecting to the proposal on different counts,
including "forced implementation of Targeted Public
Distribution System" and had held implementation of welfare
measures must be left with state governments.

"Like the BPL norms proposed by the Union Planning
Commission, the categorisation of households and arbitrary
restriction of coverage as contained in the Central Bill will
lead to controversy and make a mockery of providing food
security", she had said.

Thomas, who had sought an appointment with Jayalalithaa to
"allay her apprehensions," said the Union Food Secretary had
already held some discussions with state government officials
on this matter. To a question, he said the matter "can be
resolved" through discussions.

Thomas said proposals of the Tamil Nadu government had
reached him a day before he had moved the Bill in Parliament.

Centre had convened a two-day meeting of state Agriculture
and Food Ministers in Delhi next month to discuss among others
modernisation of Public Distribution System (PDS), which was a
key objective of the proposed Food Security Bill.

However, the mode of modernisation was left with states, he
said.

Thomas was here to chair a review meeting of officials from
the Food Corporation of India and Railways over the movement
of foodgrains in five southern states.

He said a capacity addition of over 10 lakh tonnes would be
done in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu,
Kerala and Karnataka, adding, plans to modernise FCI godowns
were also in the anvil.

PTI

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