Monday, Jan 30, 2023

In season of festivals, Govt extends free grain scheme by 3 months

Under PM-GKAY, beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act, 2013, are entitled to 5 kg foodgrains per person in a month, over and above their entitlement under the Act.

The government launched the PMGKAY in 2020 during the first wave of Covid-19. Under the scheme, free foodgrains at the rate of 5kg per person per month are provided to eligible beneficiaries of the NFSA (National Food Security Act). (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

DAYS AHEAD of the declaration of the schedule for Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the government on Wednesday announced it has decided to extend its free foodgrains scheme — Pradhan Mantri-Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) — for three more months until December-end. The scheme was to end on September 30.

Under PM-GKAY, beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act, 2013, are entitled to 5 kg foodgrains per person in a month, over and above their entitlement under the Act. Briefing media persons after a Cabinet meeting, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said 122 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) of foodgrains will be distributed during October-December, and this will entail a subsidy expenditure of Rs 44,762 crore. The decision would ensure that poor and vulnerable sections of society are supported during the forthcoming major festivals.

Sharing details of the PM-GKAY scheme so far, Thakur said the government has spent about Rs 3.45 Lakh crore up to the sixth phase of the PM-GKAY. With the additional spend of about Rs 44,762 crore in the seventh phase (October-December 2022), the overall expenditure on the scheme will touch Rs 3.91 lakh crore, he said. Over 25 months since its launch in 2020, the total foodgrains allocation including the seventh phase will be around 1,121 LMT.

“Recognising that people have gone through a difficult period of pandemic, the government has decided to extend PM-GKAY for three months so that the poor and vulnerable sections of society are supported for the forthcoming major festivals like Navratri, Dussehra, Milad-un-nabi, Deepawali, Chhath pooja, Gurunanakdev Jayanti, Christmas, etc. which they can celebrate with great gaiety and community for festivities,” said a government statement on the Cabinet decision.

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The PM-GKAY was one of the components of the government’s Rs 1.7 lakh crore Covid-19 relief package announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26, 2020—two days after the country went into national lockdown. Initially, the scheme was for only for three months – April-June 2020. On July 8, 2020, it was extended for another five months till November 2020. When the devastating second wave of Covid-19 hit in March-April 2021, the government restarted the scheme. The third phase was approved for May-June 2021. It was extended for another five months July-November 2021, and then again till March 2022, a decision widely believed to be influenced given Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. After elections, it was again extended on March 26 this year – this was the sixth phase from April-September 2022.

In Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh – where elections are due in November-December – the ratio of people covered under the NFSA is lower than the national ratio. Unlike the national population coverage of 67.5 per cent under the NFSA, in Gujarat only 63.40 per cent of its 6.03 crore population is covered under the NFSA, and its lower in Himachal Pradesh at 53.69 per cent of its 68.57 lakh population.

As per the details available with the Food Corporation of India (FCI), wheat stock in the central pool was 248.22 LMT as on September 1, 2022, which is 18.23 million lower than the wheat stock (266.45 LMT) on August 1 this year. The rice stock in the central pool stood at 244.63 LMT on September 1 this year. However, this was separate from unmilled paddy (161.60 LMT). Under PM-GKAY, a total monthly quantity of 39.88 LMT foodgrains – 7 LMT wheat and 32.88 LMT rice – is allocated, sources said.


Besides, 20 LMT wheat is required to meet the monthly allocation under the National Food Security Act, 2013. If the monthly allocation of wheat under the NFSA and PMGKAY is combined, the total wheat required in a month is around 27 LMT. Therefore, as per the current allocation ratio of wheat and rice under the PM-GKAY, the government would require 27 LMT wheat a month.

First published on: 28-09-2022 at 16:35 IST
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