Ramvilas Paswan
Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ramvilas Paswan speaking to reporters in New Delhi on 26 June.PIB

The Narendra Modi-led Union government has convened a conference of state food ministers on 4 July in New Delhi, to discuss measures to check inflation. The conference will be presided over by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, stated this in Delhi on Thursday.

Paswan told the media that the government has taken a serious note of the recent increase in market prices of some of the food articles. It would take a stern action, jointly with state governments, to check all such unreasonable hike as there is enough stock of foodgrains and other essential commodities in the country. 

The minister said that during the proposed conference, an action plan for early implementation of the National Food Security Act will also be discussed.

The National Food Security Act (NFSA) provides for the distribution of highly subsidized foodgrains to the poor but this has so far been implemented, partially or fully, in 11 states only.

Paswan stated that the effective implementation of the Act would protect the poor from the increase in market prices of food articles, especially wheat and rice.

In a letter written to the Chief Ministers of those states, where NFSA is yet to be implemented, the Union food minister has requested action for its implementation in the next three months. NFSA entitles every poor person to get at least 5 kg foodgrains per month at highly subsidized prices.

Venkaiah Naidu calls upon states to initiate urban reforms

Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday called upon state governments to become pro-active with necessary urban reforms, planning and management to meet the emerging challenges.

After inaugurating the new metro service at Mandi House station in New Delhi, Naidu was addressing the media. Naidu said that the country's urban population has increased from 62 million in 1951 to 377 million in 2011, marking an increase from 17 percent of the total population to 31 percent respectively.

He further said that about 500 millions more will be living in towns and cities between 2040 and 2050, and by then with 875 million urban population, India would be predominantly 'urban' with rural population of only 815 millions.

The minister noted that India lags in urbanization. Currently, urbanization is 50 percent in China and Indonesia, 61 percent in South Africa and 87 percent in Brazil, while the average urbanization for Asia is 45 percent.

Naidu stressed the need of combining metro rail services with other modes of public transportation for quick and comfortable transport service for poeple in cities. This drive will conserve fossil fuels like diesel, petrol and gas, he added.