Centre to provide free food grains under PMGKAY for another 5 months
The Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) was launched to ensure no poor goes hungry during the COVID-19 crisis.
The central government has decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), under which free foodgrains and pulses are distributed to 81 crores PDS beneficiaries, for five months till November.
The scheme was initially rolled out for three months till June to ensure no poor goes hungry during the COVID-19 crisis. Under the scheme, five kg of wheat or rice and one kg of pulses per month are being provided free of cost.
"The Prime Minister had announced that this scheme will be extended and the same has been approved by the Cabinet today," Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said in a media briefing on Wednesday.
About 203 lakh tonnes of foodgrains and 9.70 lakh tonne of chana will be given for free in the next five months, he said. The distribution of free ration under the PMGKAY would cost Rs 1.49 lakh crore to the exchequer, he added. The estimated cost is for providing eight months of ration under the scheme.
Stating that this is the most popular scheme, the minister said, "For the first time since (India's) independence, free foodgrains are being distributed for eight months. No country has such a big scheme." In a televised address to the nation on June 30, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced extension of the free ration scheme PMGKAY till the end of November 2020 to ameliorate the hardship faced by the underprivileged or poor on account of economic disruption caused by the lockdown due to COVID-19.
In a statement, the government said the extension of PMGKAY is in line with the commitments of the government not to allow anybody, especially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of food grains due to disruption during the next five months.
Free distribution of chana will also ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above-mentioned individuals during these five months, it said.
All expenses on the extended PMGKAY will be borne by the central government, it added.
Free ration provided under the PMGKAY is in addition to the subsidised grains given through Public Distribution System (PDS) under the National Food Security Act.
With regard to distribution of free ration to 8 crore migrant labourers, Javadekar said about 8 lakh tonne of foodgrains has been allocated for this purpose and migrants can avail their quota till August.
About 5 kg foodgrains per beneficiary and 1 kg pulses per family is being distributed at free of cost to migrants who neither have centre or state ration cards under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme.