Withdrawing PMGKAY a regressive step, cuts the foodgrain entitlement by half: Right to Food Campaign 

On December 23, 2022, the Union government announced that it would discontinue the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) from January 1, 2023. 

December 30, 2022 10:53 pm | Updated December 31, 2022 11:51 am IST - New Delhi

In April 2020, the Union government announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana under which an extra 5 kg of free foodgrains was provided to every ration card holder in addition to the NFSA entitlement. File

In April 2020, the Union government announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana under which an extra 5 kg of free foodgrains was provided to every ration card holder in addition to the NFSA entitlement. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Withdrawing the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), under which an extra 5 kg of free foodgrains was provided to every ration card holder in addition to the entitlement under the National Food Security Act, is a regressive step and will force poor families to spend ₹750-₹900 per month to access the current level of ration entitlement, Right to Food Campaign, a collective of countrywide organisations working in the sector, said in a statement here. 

The collective pointed out that the step essentially cuts the ration entitlement by 50% for 81 crore cardholders. Under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), all priority category ration card holders are entitled to 5 kg of grain per person and the Antyodaya category cardholders to 35 kg of grain.

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The NFSA caps the price at ₹3 per kg of rice and ₹2 per kg of wheat. In April 2020, the Union government announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) under which an extra 5 kg of free foodgrains was provided to every ration card holder in addition to the NFSA entitlement. Therefore, ration card holders were entitled to 10 kg ration per person. On December 23, 2022, the Union government announced that it would discontinue the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) from January 1, 2023. 

“The government has termed this as a ‘historic’ decision even though in reality it in no way compensates for the huge reduction in the ration entitlement,” the collective said in a statement.

As per their calculations, the net saving per person as a result of the announcement of the NFSA ration being made free will be only around ₹11 per month (4 kg of wheat X ₹2 and 1 kg of rice X ₹3) whereas in order to purchase the additional 5 kg of grain which has now been discontinued (as PMGKAY has been discontinued), that person will have to spend between ₹150-₹175 as rice and wheat cost around ₹30-₹35 per kg in the market.

A family of five will now be forced to spend ₹750-₹900 per month just in order to access the current level of ration entitlement, it said.

“The halving of ration entitlement and a resulting huge rise in expenditure can in no way be termed ‘historic’,” it added.

The collective has demanded that till the country is completely out of the pandemic, the ration entitlement guaranteed should be at least 10 kg per person and the food basket must be expanded to include millets, pulses and oils. 

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