The government will extend the validity of a programme to distribute free grains to 80 crore people until Diwali (November 4) from June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. This will soften the Covid blow to mainly the poor and the vulnerable, including migrant workers.
The beneficiaries will continue to get an additional 5 kg of rice or wheat and 1 kg of pulses, every month under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). This distribution is over and above the supply of subsidised grains under the National Food Security Act.
So, if all the free grains are lifted, it may cost the exchequer around `1.2 lakh crore this fiscal, roughly the same as last.
Free ration was first provided to the poor for 8 months through November 2020 under PMGKAY in the aftermath of Covid-induced lockdown in 2020, , Modi said. Due to the second wave, the government then decided to extend it further.
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