Only 13 per cent of 8 lakh metric tonnes of free food grains allocated for returning migrant workers under the Atmanirbhar Bharat package have actually reached migrants during May and June, government data reveals.
This special allocation was made by the Centre in May, amid criticism over migrants workers’ exodus from urban centres.
Latest data of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution shows that against the Centre’s announcement of distributing free 5-kg foodgrain per month for two months to about 8 crore migrant workers who do not have ration cards, only 2.13 crore beneficiaries it in May (1.21 crore) and June (92.44 lakh).
Announcing this on May 14, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had suggested that the allocation was meant for about 8 crore migrant workers.
According to the ministry’s data, all 36 states and Union Territories lifted 6.38 lakh metric tonnes, or 80 percent of 8 lakh metric tonnes of food grains allocated under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan for May and June. But they have distributed only 1.07 lakh metric tonnes (or 13% of allocated quantity) of free foodgrain to the intended beneficiaries until June 30, it shows.
Editorial | The grain mountain
Despite lifting their full two months’ quota, several states did not distribute the free food grain to the returning workers, statistics shows.
At least 26 states and UTs have lifted 100-per cent of their allocation from the Centre but not one of them distributed full quantities to the beneficiaries in the last two months, data shows.
The maximum quantity — 1,42,033 metric tonnes — was allocated to Uttar Pradesh, which lifted 1,40,637 metric tonnes. But the state distributed only 3,324 metric tonnes (2.03 per cent) to about 4.39 lakh beneficiaries in May, and to 2.25 lakh beneficiaries in June, according to the ministry.
Bihar also lifted 100 per cent quota of 86,450 metric tonnes but distributed only 1.842 metric tonnes (2.13%) to about 3.68 lakh beneficiaries in May, and to no one in June, according to data.
Eleven states and one UT did not distribute even 1 per cent of the quantity they had lifted to the beneficiaries during June. These are Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Ladakh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Tripura.
Some states have lagged behind in lifting of their share of grains. For instance, Odisha lifted only 388 metric tonnes from the Food Corporation of India against its allocation of 32,360 metric tonnes under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan. Madhya Pradesh lifted 1,963 metric tonnes (4%) of its allocation of 54,642 metric tonnes, while Chhattisgarh lifted only 944 tonnes (5%) out of the allocated 20,077 metric tonnes.
Six or seven states, including Goa and Telangana, have written to the Centre and informed that they will not be able to implement the scheme since migrant workers have moved out of their states.
At a virtual media conference on Wednesday, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said, “Some states are not distributing foodgrain to the poor. It is a matter of concern…they should be sensitive to the poor…. We have no problem in providing foodgrain to states. When it is being given free, I don’t understand the problem in distribution. We are taking this issue seriously.”
Among states which have performed comparatively better, Rajasthan lifted almost 100 per cent of its allocated quota of 44,662 metric tonnes and distributed over 95 per cent — or 42,478 metric tonnes of grain to 42.47 lakh beneficiaries in May and June each.
Haryana distributed 6,463 metric tonnes against its allocation of 12,649 metric tonnes. Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka also performed well, the ministry’s data shows.
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