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The food security bill will go to the cabinet very soon for approval, the food ministry said Wednesday, calling upon the states to prepare for its implementation.

Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister K.V. Thomas Wednesday chaired a meeting with state ministers to discuss preparedness for enactment of the bill, which is a flagship scheme of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

‘It (the bill) will go to the cabinet for approval very soon,’ a ministry spokesperson said.Food ministers and food secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were present at the meeting which was held in the backdrop of record production and procurement of foodgrains by state governments and Food Corporation of India (FCI).The meeting discussed PDS (public distribution system) reforms and computerization of PDS in states.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilakeni, who was also present, urged the states to integrate ‘Aadhar’ infrastructure with the PDS network to computerise operations.

Thomas stressed that states should increase their uplift of foodgrains under above poverty line (APL) and below poverty line (BPL) categories to free storage space.The spokesman said of 73 lakh metric tonnes of storage capacity approved under the Private Entrepreneurs Guarantee Scheme (PEG), 63 lakh tonne of foodgrains capacity has been sanctioned in states whose representatives were present at the meeting.

‘All the states were requested to complete the work in a time bound manner and see to it that the proposed storage capacity is made available by next year,’ the spokesperson said.

State governments were also urged enhance storage for their own use and monitor foodgrains stocks kept in open.The states called for early settlement of their procurement claims relating to FCI.

The spokesperson said Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh called for steps to move surplus foodgains to consuming states on a priority basis to free storage space and prepare for ensuing paddy procurement season.

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