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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Atma Nirbhar Bharat package: Only 33 per cent of foodgrains allocated for migrants distributed

Under the scheme, each such family was to be provided with 5 kg of foodgrains and 1 kg gram (whole) per month for May and June. Later, states were given two more months — July and August — to distribute the already lifted foodgrains.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: September 2, 2020 11:57:57 pm
Under the scheme, each migrant family was to be given 5 kg foodgrains and 1 kg gram per month. (Express photo by Renuka Puri/File)

Only 33 per cent of free foodgrains and 56 per cent of free gram (whole), allocated for migrants under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat package, have actually reached the intended beneficiaries, shows data available with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

Out of 8 lakh tonnes of foodgrains (wheat and rice) allocated for the migrants, 6.38 lakh tonnes (80 per cent) was lifted by the states and Union Territories but only 2.64 lakh tonnes (33 per cent) could be distributed to intended beneficiaries in the last four months, the data as on August 31 shows, according to officials in the ministry.

As part of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on May 14 announced free foodgrains for two months to migrants who were neither beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act NFSA nor had a ration card in the state they were stationed in.

Under the scheme, each such migrant family was to be provided with 5 kg of foodgrains and 1 kg gram (whole) per month for May and June. Later, states were given two more months — July and August — to distribute the already lifted foodgrains.

However, till August 31, all the states and Union Territories have been able to distribute only 41 per cent of 6.38 lakh tonnes of foodgrains they had lifted under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat package.

The data shows that across the country, 1.17 lakh tonnes of foodgrains were distributed to migrants in May; 1.24 lakh tonnes in June; 15,223 tonnes in July; and only 7,643 tonnes in August.

While 26 out of 36 states and Union Territories have lifted 100 per cent of foodgrains with respect to their allocations, only four — Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland and Odisha — have reported 100 per cent distribution of foodgrains among the beneficiaries.

The data shows that despite lifting 100 per cent quota under this scheme, Andhra Pradesh reported nil distribution and Telangana and Goa reported 1 per cent and 3 per cent distribution, respectively. Gujarat lifted about 88 per cent of foodgrains under this scheme, but distributed only 1 per cent.

Similarly, the distribution of 1 kg gram to each migrant family without a ration card, has also been low.

According to sources, senior officials from the Department of Consumer Affairs have informed a Parliamentary standing committee that about 16,000 tonnes of free gram have been distributed to migrant families under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat package.

The Standing Committee on Labour, headed by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, had called representatives of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to brief it about the steps taken for migrant workers.

The committee is deliberating on the issue of social security and welfare measures for inter-state migrants and workers in the unorganised and informal sector.

Food Ministry data shows that out of 29,132 tonnes of the gram allocation, states and Union Territories distributed about 16,323 tonnes (56 per cent) till August 31. Only Delhi and Manipur have reported 100 per cent distribution of gram. Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Ladakh and Lakshadweep have reported less than 10 per cent distribution of gram.

Meanwhile, a Food Ministry official said the scheme of free foodgrains for migrants had ended on Monday as no state asked for the extension of the scheme.

At the time of the announcement of this scheme in mid-May, Sitharaman had said that about 8 crore migrants are expected to benefit from this measure. The quantity of foodgrains was allocated according to that number. However, states reported a much lower figure of 2.80 crore migrants to the Centre, who could be covered under the initiative, said officials.

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