The Centre on Tuesday said 50 % of the states, including those ruled by BJP, are ready to implement the food law by December as others prepare to roll it out, while some have aired certain concerns.
A Committee of Secretaries (CoS) will be set up to address the concerns of the states on issues such as framing criteria for identification of beneficiaries and sharing of financial burden among others, it said.
"50 % of states including BJP-ruled are ready to implement the food law by end of December," Food Minister K V Thomas said, briefing reporters about the outcome of the meeting with state Food Ministers on the implementation of the central food security laws.
Other states are also under preparation and eventually everyone will implement. "No states have said they will not implement the law," he said.
Highlighting concerns of the states, Thomas said: "One of the main issues was protecting existing allocation. Of 35 states, 18 states would be getting lower than the current allocation. We have assured them that it will be protected." On Tamil Nadu's demand to protect the quantity of grains and price, he said: "Tamil Nadu is worst hit by the food law. We said we will protect their coverage."
On identification of beneficiaries by the states, the minister said that the socio-economic caste census would be available by the end of November for them.
Thomas said states asked the Centre to share the cost of transportation-handling and margin of ration shops dealers.
On this demand, he said that the Centre has agreed to share the burden even though some states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are fully bearing the cost.
Out of 28 states and seven union territories, 22 food ministers were present in the meeting and the rest were represented by senior officials.
Notably, food ministers from BJP ruled states Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh abstained from the meeting. Food Minister of Delhi, which was first to announce the implementation of the law, was also not present.
Parliament recently passed the food law -- considered as 'game-changer' by the Congress-ruled UPA government. It aims at providing cheaper foodgrain to 82 crore population at Rs 1-3/kg.
Asserting that states have crucial role in successful implementation of the law, Thomas asked state governments to plug loopholes by strengthening PDS and ensuring effective door-step delivery of grains.
He said the CoS will also prepare a draft on revised PDS (control) order to align it with the provisions of the food law. It would also look into the functioning of vigilance committee to make it more effective.
Another committee of ministers, as suggested by state governments in the conference, is likely to be set up after consultations with the Prime Minister, he added.
Thomas urged the state governments to set up or designate credible grievance redressal authorities at the district and state levels before implementing the law. He also asked them to play a proactive role in constructing intermediary godowns by availing the existing schemes under the Public-Private- Partnership mode.
In the meeting, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, among others, expressed concerns on various issues.
Andhra Pradesh Food Minister Sridhar Basu said the state plans to roll out the scheme despite additional burden of Rs 3,000 crore per year. Uttar Pradesh Food Minister Rajendra Chaudhary sought funds in advance for implementing the law.
Tamil Nadu Food Minister R Kamraj said the coverage of urban population at 50 per cent and one-year time limit for identification of eligible households was "not sufficient".
He sought amendment to the law to include allocation of rice at Rs 8.30 per kg to state governments for at least three years, besides objecting to the provision of providing food security allowance in times of foodgrain shortages.