National

Government extends free ration scheme by six months

Beneficiaries wait outside a ration shop to collect free food grains in Prayagraj. The scheme was introduced in April 2020, a month into the first lockdown during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beneficiaries wait outside a ration shop to collect free food grains in Prayagraj. The scheme was introduced in April 2020, a month into the first lockdown during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) for another six months till September 2022. The scheme was originally introduced in April 2020 a month into the first lockdown during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will be the sixth phase of PM-GKAY. The Phase-V of the scheme was to end in March 2022.

In the recently, concluded Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh it was lauded as one of the key reasons for return of the BJP. Mr. Modi in a speech during the election campaign acknowledged the significance of welfare measure by recounting a woman voter’s story where she proclaimed her support for BJP because of “Modi Ka Namak” (Modi’s salt).

Earlier in the day, after his first Cabinet meeting of his second term Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced the extension of the free ration scheme by three months.

The scheme covers 80 crore ration card holders across the country who are supplied 5 kg of rice or wheat and 1 kg of pulses per person per month.  Apart from the Centre’s supply of food grains the Uttar Pradesh government spends ₹950 crore per month to supply 1 kg each of bengal gram or channa, oil and salt to the beneficiaries listed with the State.

“Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly abated and economic activities are gathering momentum, this PM-GKAY extension would ensure that no poor household goes to bed without food during this time of recovery,” the government said in a statement after the Cabinet meeting.

The government has spent approximately ₹2.60 lakh crore so far and another ₹80,000 crore will be spent over the next six months till September 2022, taking the total expenditure under PM-GKAY to nearly ₹3.40 Lakh crore.

The Ration Card portability has also helped in extending the schemes to the migrant workers, the government statement said.  “The benefit of free ration can be availed through portability by any migrant labourer or beneficiary under One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan from nearly five lakh ration shops across the country. So far, over 61 crore portability transactions have benefitted the beneficiaries away from their homes.”


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Printable version | Mar 27, 2022 8:34:49 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-govt-extends-free-ration-scheme-by-six-months/article65262974.ece