The state government is likely to urge the Centre to extend free distribution of foodgrain under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) by three months, from July to September.
After the coronavirus-induced lockdown was announced in March, the Centre had announced free distribution of five kg rice per head and one kg pulses to ration cardholders under the scheme from April to June. This was over and above what the ration card holders get under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) at a highly subsidised price of Rs 2 per kg for wheat and Rs 3 per kg for rice. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the state government had extended the distribution of free rice and pulses to migrants who did not have ration cards.
On Tuesday, state Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Cons-umer Protection Chhagan Bhujbal said, “NCP president Sharad Pawar will speak to Prime minister Narendra Modi today and request the Centre to extend its Garib Kalyan Yojna by three months”.
Bhujbal said he had held discussions with Pawar and also appraised the NCP president about challenges ahead as monsoon brings work to a standstill even in areas where lockdown has been lifted partially. The minister also presented a detailed letter to Pawar underlining the difficulties being faced by people to access foodgrain in the open market.
“The PMGKAY facilitated adequate free foodgrain disbursement among the poor and jobless people. At least they were assured of a decent meal,” Bhujbal said.
According to the Food and Civil Supplies department data, 7.12 crore beneficiaries under various categories, including below poverty line and above poverty line, get subsidised foodgrain.
Apart from this, the Rs 5 Shivbhojan Thali has covered 88 lakh people. The state government intends to expand the scheme to reach out to one crore in the next few months. Under the scheme, the state government gives Rs 45 subsidy per meal in urban and Rs 30 per meal in rural.
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