New Delhi: Seeking to cash in on the ambitious food security programme, as many as five Congress-ruled states, including Karnataka and Kerala in south and Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in north, are planning a roll out of the scheme next month.

Roll out food scheme: Sonia to Cong CMs

Delhi, where assembly polls are scheduled by the year-end, has already announced that it would launch the new food security programme on August 20, the birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Food Minister KV Thomas, who has been intensely interacting with state governments over the issue, said that the five states were only now waiting for revised 2011-12 poverty data of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) to roll out the scheme.

The data will help the state governments to identify the number of people, who could be beneficiaries under the scheme, the world's largest social welfare programme intended to provide legal right over cheap foodgrains to 82 crore people.

Thomas said the Centre was also awaiting information from other states on their preparedness to launch the scheme at the earliest. There are 14 Congress-ruled states. After the Centre came out with the Ordinance on the Food Security Bill, states have started work on modernizing the public distribution system (PDS) and plugging loopholes in the system at a feverish pace for smooth roll out of the new programme.

On Saturday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states to expeditiously implement the food security scheme in "letter and spirit" so that "nobody sleeps hungry".

As per the United Nations, India is home to 25 percent of the world's hungry poor. The food scheme, a pet project of Gandhi, is seen by the party as a "game changer" in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.


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