PM Modi announces free ration for 800 million people till Diwali
New Delhi, June 07: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will be extended till Diwali this year in order to provide foodgrains to the poor.
In April, the Centre had announced distribution of free foodgrains for the months of May and June under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to help people during the second wave of COVID-19.
In his address to the nation, the Prime Minister said: "Last year when the lockdown was imposed due to corona, free ration was provided to more than 80 crore people for eight months under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana."
This year too due to the second wave of the pandemic, the scheme was implemented for May and June, he added.
"Today, the government has decided to extend PMGKAY till Deepawali. During the pandemic, the government is standing with the poor. Till November, a fixed quantity of free foodgrains will be made available to more than 80 crore people," Modi said.
Under the PMGKAY, the Centre is distributing 5 kg foodgrains per person per month free of cost to about 79.39 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
This distribution is over and above the regular allocation to beneficiaries under the NFSA.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year in March, the PMGKAY scheme was launched to support the vulnerable sections of society. It was implemented during April-November 2020.
The scheme was reintroduced for May-June 2021 to deal with the impact of the second wave of the pandemic. The estimated cost to the exchequer for these two months is Rs 25,332.92 crore, which will now increase significantly.
These 80 crore beneficiaries will continue to get their regular quota under the NFSA.
The Centre provides 5 kg wheat and rice per month per person at a highly subsidised rate of Rs 2-3 per kg to around 80 crore beneficiaries under the NFSA.
The Centre procures wheat and paddy at minimum support price (MSP) to meet its foodgrains requirement.
State-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) is the nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains.
Commenting on the decision, IFFCO MD U S Awasthi appreciated the government''s decision to help the poor and the needy.
Harsh Pati Singhania, Director - JK Organisation and VC and MD of JK Paper said, "Government''s move to extend free ration to 80 crore people till Diwali is a positive move, which will help the people and enable them to conserve savings and spend on other necessities thereby creating demand and stimulating the economy."
T V Narendran, President, CII, said, "CII's concern and advocacy regarding protecting the poor from loss of livelihoods has been addressed by the Prime Minister''s announcement of extending the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana until November 2021 to ensure free food grains to weaker sections of society."