Puducherry: The Food Ministry is prepared to discuss the proposed National Food Security Bill with West Bengal and Tamil Nadu which are opposed to it.

"We are prepared to sit with the two states and discuss the issue," Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs, K V Thomas said, addressing the concluding session of the Editors conference here.

Claiming that his ministry had answered the nine questions put by West Bengal on the issue, he said he would soon meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and discuss the matter. "I will soon go to Kolkata and meet her."

Referring to Tamil Nadu, he said the state would stand to benefit by the bill as its "plus point" was their universal PDS scheme.

"Right now, Tamil Nadu is procuring 25 kgs of rice at the rate of Rs five from the Centre as subsidy. But after the bill is passed, they will be able to get 35 kg of rice at Rs three (as subsidy), which will be beneficial," he said.

"We will discuss the benefits (of the National Food Security Bill) with an open mind with the state," he said.

Thomas also praised the Tamil Nadu government for its free rice distribution scheme for BPL families and sought to know how many more states were doing it.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Dec 20, objecting to the proposal including forced implementation of Targeted Public Distribution System and had said Centre should not encroach upon areas of states.

He replied in the negative when asked if government was considering an option of making the Bill optional to whichever states is interested in implementing it. "No decision has been taken on that. The Bill is with the Standing Committee of Parliament," he said.

Thomas said government would add three million tonnes of foodgrains to its stocks by March this year and another four million by 2013.

He also said there is a need to modernise the PDS system with the assistance of state governments.