The Centre on Tuesday said states and union territories have started lifting the quota for May out of the additional food grains meant for free distribution to nearly 80 crore ration card holders under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY). With as many as 16 states and UTs lifting their entire allocation for this month, the total off-take for May has crossed 80%, so far.
PMGKAY has been re-introduced for two months – May and June – to ameliorate the hardships faced by the poor and needy due to various disruptions amid the second wave of Covid 19. The government has not yet ruled out extending it beyond June and given the current surplus of grains in the central pool stock, there may be further extension.
Under PMGKAY, additional food grains are provided free of cost via ration shops to all the beneficiaries registered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) over and above their existing monthly entitlement of 5 kg grains per person. Food Corporation of India (FCI) has already positioned the required 79.39 lakh tonne of food grains (for both May and June) at its depots in all states and UTs for the successful implementation of the scheme.
“Till May 17, all 36 states and UTs have lifted 31.80 lakh tonne of food grains from FCI depots. Lakshadweep has lifted full allocation for both May and June, while 15 states including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have lifted 100% of this month’s allocation,” the food ministry said in a statement. All the states have been sensitised to lift and distribute free food grains under PMGKAY in a time-bound manner, it added. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were the first to lift 100% of allocation within four days.
The cost of free food grains distribution under the scheme, estimated at Rs 26,000 crore, is entirely being borne by the Centre. This allocation is in addition to regular NFSA allocation and 79.39 LMT food grains have to be issued under the said scheme.
Last year, the Centre had provided free foodgrains to NFSA beneficiaries under PMGKAY during April-November) under which 104 lakh tonne of wheat and 201 lakh tonne of rice were lifted by states.