PM extends free rations until NovemberApprox Read Time: 6 minutes
In News: PM extends free rations until November
- Acknowledging that the Covid pandemic and the lockdown have hit the poor the hardest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for 80 crore people till the end of November.
- Incidentally, several state Chief Ministers had written to the Prime Minister, asking him to extend the scheme. Initially, the scheme was announced for three months — April, May and June only.
- Giving reasons for the extension, the PM pointed that the economic activity in the country during the monsoons was more concentrated in the agricultural sector compared to other sectors.
- Further, the season also brings about the onset of festival season in India, when people need to spend more.
One Nation, One Ration Card:
- The PM also shared that the government is keen to cover all ration cardholders under One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme by March 2021.
- In the present system, a ration cardholder can buy food grains only from a fair price shop (FPS) that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives.
- However, under the ONORC system, the beneficiary will be able to buy subsidized food grains from any FPS across the country.
About: PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY)
- The PMGKAY is one of the main components of the Centre’s Rs 1.70 lakh crore relief package under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them fight the battle against coronavirus.
- The scheme involves providing additional 5 kg food grain free to 80 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), over and above their monthly entitlement.
- In addition, every family got one kilogram of dal per month, free of cost, but the milling of pulses, ended up delaying delivery and distribution of dal.
- Thus the government has replaced the provision of one kilogram of dal to one kilogram of chana for the remaining duration of the scheme, which is expected to speed up delivery.
- The five-month extension will cost around Rs 90,000 crore, taking the overall cost of the scheme to Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
Food grain distribution under PMGKAY:
- Out of about the monthly allocation of 40 lakh metric tonnes, states have distributed about 93 % in April, 92 % in May and 74 % in June.
- Some states, for instance Bihar and Delhi, have distributed less food grains than the national average. West Bengal is the only state that has not distributed food grains for May and June.
Status of food grain buffer:
- According to the latest buffer norms, which are in place since July 2017, every year the government has to maintain a stock of at least:
- 40 lakh MT of food grains as on April 1
- 20 lakh MT as on July 1
- 70 lakh MT as on October 1
- 10 lakh MT as on January 1
- According to the Food Ministry, as on June 29, 2020, FCI has 266.22 lakh metric tonnes of rice and 550.49 lakh MT wheat.
- Therefore, a total stock of 816.71 lakh MT food grains is available, which excludes the ongoing purchase of wheat and paddy, which have not yet reached the godown.
- According to the government, the next few months may see slow recovery in the economy as the COVID-19 cases continue to increase, however, with lower mortality rates compared to other countries.
- Highlighting that the country is now entering Unlock-two in its fight against the corona pandemic, the PM asked the people to not be careless and said that following precautions such as use of masks, social distancing and hygiene were of utmost importance.
About: National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013
- The National Food Security Act, 2013 was notified in 2013 with the objective to provide for food and nutritional security, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
- The Act provides for coverage of up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidized food grains under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), thus covering about two-thirds of the population.
- The eligible persons are entitled to receive 5 Kgs of food grains per person per month at subsidized prices.
- Further, the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households or the poorest of the poor group, receive 7 kg of subsidized food grains per person per month i.e. 35 kg of food grain/family/month.