New Delhi: The Centre will soon initiate the consultation process with the state governments on the draft National Food Security Bill that aims to provide legal right on subsidised foodgrains to 68 per cent of India's population.

 "We will at the earliest start the consultation process with the states. The law ministry has already vetted the draft bill and the same has been communicated to the Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee," said Food Minister K V Thomas.    

The food ministry is awaiting orders from Mukherjee, who is head of the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on food, on this issue, he said.

The consultation with the state governments is expected to take at least 15-20 days and later the draft bill will be moved for the Cabinet's approval before it is placed before Parliament.

Thomas had recently said that his ministry will try and speed up the draft Food Bill's introduction in the ongoing Parliament session.

As per the draft bill, a legal entitlement will be given to 75 per cent of rural people and 50 per cent of urban people, taking the total legal coverage to 68 per cent of the country's population.

As much as 7 kg of foodgrain per month per person will be given to the’ priority sector' (Below Poverty Line). Rice will be supplied via ration shops at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg and millets at Re 1 per kg.

For the general category (Above Poverty Line), 3 kg per person will be supplied via ration shops at the rate half of the minimum support price (MSP).

About 61 million tonnes of foodgrains will be required in a year to cover the targeted beneficiary and will increase the current food subsidy bill by Rs 13,000 crore to Rs 95,000 crore in a year.