Tamil Nadu

Amid pandemic, a silver lining for ration cardholders

Half of the total quantity of rice distributed in a normal year has reached beneficiaries in three months

The distribution of nearly half of the PDS rice provided to beneficiaries in a year has been completed in three months in Tamil Nadu, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has also been done for free for the benefit of ration cardholders.

Ordinarily, three lakh tonnes of rice are distributed each month in the State, with the annual allocation being around 36 lakh tonnes. In six months, 18 lakh tonnes would reach PDS beneficiaries.

In the last three months, following measures implemented by the Central and State governments to mitigate the hardship arising out of the COVID-19 lockdown, 17.04 lakh tonnes of rice were distributed to ration cardholders in Tamil Nadu, according to officials monitoring civil supplies and PDS.

In comparison, during 2019-20, Tamil Nadu was allocated 36.78 lakh tonnes of rice, of which 24.24 lakh tonnes were meant for 1.15 crore rice-drawing Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Household (PHH) cardholders, under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The State eventually drew 39.3 lakh tonnes of rice during the year.

In addition to rice, 60,000 tonnes of pulses, six crore pouches of edible oil and 90,000 tonnes of sugar were provided to the PDS beneficiaries, free, in the last three months.

In late March, the Central government came up with the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), which provided free additional entitlement of 5 kg rice per person, per month, and one kg pulses per month, each to AAY and PHH cardholders, considered to be poor. The State government, which had tried in vain to get free extra entitlement of rice for around 86 lakh rice-drawing non-priority household (NPHH) cardholders too, later decided to provide the same treatment to NPHH cardholders by buying rice at the rate of ₹22 per kg from the Union government.

Consequently, between April and June 28, the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation lifted from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) 11.22 lakh tonnes of rice, including 5.36 lakh tonnes of free rice. As many as 33,000 tonnes of pulses were supplied by the Central government, free, officials pointed out.

The extension of the PMGKAY up to November, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, was viewed as a favourable development by the officials. Tamil Nadu was among the 10 States that had demanded an extension of the scheme. If the Centre continues to follow the yardstick it had adopted earlier when it comes to the allocation of rice to States, Tamil Nadu will get nearly 9 lakh tonnes of rice, for free, for the benefit of AAY and PHH cardholders.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:09:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/amid-pandemic-a-silver-lining-for-ration-cardholders/article31958426.ece

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