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Coronavirus lockdown | Eight States, UTs yet to lift foodgrains meant for migrant workers

Eight States have so far not lifted any foodgrains allocated by the Centre under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat package, which aims to ensure free supply of foodgrains to all migrants who are not covered under the Food Security Act for the next two months.

As part of the scheme, which is aimed at 8 crore migrant workers who do not have ration cards, the beneficiaries are supposed to get free supply of 5 kg of either rice or wheat and 1 kg of chana or pulses.

Till Thursday, out of the 8 lakh metric tonne (LMT) allocated under the scheme only 2.06 LMT had been lifted by the State governments, as per the statistics available with the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution. Eight States and Union Territories have so far not lifted any foodgrains under the scheme: Delhi, Chandigarh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. There are another six States, which have picked less than 40% of the foodgrains including Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Centre has laid the onus of identification of the migrant workers and deciding the mechanism for allocating the foodgrains on the States. Speaking to reporters over a videoconference on Friday, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said, “We are not raising any ifs and buts, it is up to the States to come up with a policy and distribute the grains. By July 15, they should submit a list of beneficiaries whom these grains have been distributed to”. The allocation is roughly equal to 10% of the total foodgrain usually allocated to each of the States.

Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey further explained that various States had come up with their own forms of distribution.

“Some states like Maharashtra and Gujarat are distributing cooked food. They are using these points of distribution to identify the needy. Meanwhile, there are other States like Haryana which are giving out food coupons after carrying out necessary checks,” Mr. Pandey said.

Separately, Delhi and West Bengal were yet to lift the foodgrains allocated for the month of May under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGAY), Mr. Paswan said.

The Centre has allocated 5 kg rice or wheat per beneficiary and 1 kg pulses per family for free under the PMGAY for April-June, which is over and above the subsidised grains distributed under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for the ration card holders.

There are other States like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar where less than 70% of the grains have been picked up in May. “Each State has a different cycle for distributing foodgrains,” said a senior Food ministry official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Delhi and West Bengal for example have a two-month cycle. So if they haven’t picked it so far, they would pick it eventually,” the official added.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 1:07:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-lockdown-eight-states-uts-yet-to-lift-foodgrains-meant-for-migrant-workers/article31704564.ece

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