NATIONAL

Free grains will be given till Aug. 31

For one and all:Labourers carrying sacks of rice from a Food Corporation of India godown in Patna.Ranjeet Kumar  

The Narendra Modi government has extended the deadline for distribution of free food grains under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission allocated to State governments, which was aimed at migrant workers who didn’t have ration cards, by a month, till August 31.

Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Ramvilas Paswan said the scheme was launched on May 15 and the identification process of genuine beneficiaries took some time. “This scheme is for anyone who doesn’t have a ration card. The beneficiary may or may not be a migrant worker. It is up to the States to decide how they want to distribute it,” Mr. Paswan said.

He said that now States could complete distribution of balance of allocated food grains and pulses.

Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Package, 5 kg of free food grains per person and 1 kg of free whole gram per family has been distributed to migrant labourers, stranded and needy families, who are not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or State scheme PDS cards.

Scheme underutilised

The scheme has been underutilised, as per the Ministry’s own statistics. Out of eight lakh tonnes allotted to the States, only 6.39 lakh tonnes has been picked up and out of this too, only 2,32,433 tonnes of food grains given to 2.24 crore beneficiaries in May and to 2.25 crore beneficiaries in June. Mr. Paswan said that around 33,620 tonnes of whole gram had been dispatched to the States and Union Territories. A total of 32,968 tonnes of whole gram had been lifted by various States and Union Territories, of which 10,645 tonnes had been distributed.

20 million tonnes

Meanwhile, around 20 million tonnes of food grains have been earmarked for free distribution to Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and Priority Household (PHH) cardholders up to November in the country.

Of this quantity, rice will account for about 11 million tonnes and wheat 9 million tonnes. Being carried out as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), the free distribution of food grains is meant to be given as additional entitlement to the beneficiaries at the rate of five kg per month for five months — July to November.

Issuing a State-wise allocation order on Wednesday, the Department of Food and Public Distribution in the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution made it clear that the allocation would be in addition to the regular monthly allocation to the States and Union Territories under the NFSA.

Unlike in the north and Maharashtra where both wheat and rice have been allotted more or less in equal measure, the southern region has been given predominantly rice with minimum amount of wheat.

(With inputs from T. Ramakrishnan in Chennai)