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No free grain in July for 40% of PMGKAY beneficiaries

Ram Vilas Paswan.

Ram Vilas Paswan.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

Almost four out of ten people dependent on free food from the Centre did not receive their July allocation under a special scheme to help tide over the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told journalists on Friday, blaming States for their failure to distribute the free grains and pulses.

In fact, as many as 11 States and Union Territories did not carry out any distribution at all under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) in July, the first month of the extended scheme. In the first phase, from April to June, about 95% of the 81 crore beneficiaries received their grain allocation. In July, that dropped to just 61%, according to an official statement. Only 6% of the free chana has been distributed.

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The lag is partly because some States follow staggered a bi- or tri-monthly distribution cycle, said Mr. Paswan, adding that such States have promised to distribute both the July and August allocation during this month. The laggard States include Punjab, West Bengal and Uttarakhand. In the flood-hit States of Assam and Bihar, the PMGKAY coverage for July was only 21% and 52%, respectively.

PMGKAY was rolled out in April as part of the Centre’s emergency response to COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown which deprived crores of people of their livelihood. It is meant for existing ration card holders who already receive subsidised grains under the National Food Security Act, and doubles their allocation by providing 5 kg of rice or wheat per person and 1 kg of chana per household. As the economic consequences of the pandemic stretched beyond the lockdown, the Centre decided to extend the scheme beyond the initial three months, and implement it until November.

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So far, almost 50 crore beneficiaries have received their grain allocation in July, amounting to a total of less than 25 lakh tonnes of distributed grain, although almost 50 lakh tonnes have been lifted by States and Union Territories from Central stocks. The situation is much worse for chana distribution, where only 11,979 tonnes have reached beneficiaries, although the total allocation for the month is about 1.9 lakh tonnes.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 2:05:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-free-grain-in-july-for-40-of-pmgkay-beneficiaries/article32298409.ece

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