Foodgrains free of cost to over 80 cr people under PMGKAY for 1 yr: Food Ministry

Foodgrains free of cost to over 80 cr people under PMGKAY for 1 yr: Food Ministry

New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) The Centre on Wednesday said it is providing foodgrains free of cost to over 80 crore people under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKAY) for a period of one year starting January 1, 2023.

Addressing a public rally in Durg (Chhattisgarh) recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his government's free ration scheme PMGKAY has been extended for the next five years.

The opposition Congress Party accused the announcement of being in violation of the election code of conduct. Elections are currently being held in five states.

In an official statement, the food ministry said that the Centre is 'providing food grains free of cost to Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households and priority households (PHH) beneficiaries under *PMGKAY* for a period of one year beginning from 1st January 2023.' In December last year, the Centre decided to subsume the PMGKAY, which was launched in 2020 to provide additional foodgrains free of cost, with the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

Under the NFSA, up to 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban population are being covered under two categories -- Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority households.

While AAY households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, are entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per family per month, priority households get 5 kg per person per month.

The ministry said that the distribution of foodgrains free of cost is being done in order to remove the financial burden of the poor beneficiaries and to ensure nationwide uniformity and effective implementation of the NFSA (2013).

It further stated that the decision was taken to strengthen the provisions of NFSA in terms of accessibility, affordability and availability of entitled foodgrains for the poor.

The move was to ensure effective and uniform implementation of the NFSA (One Nation -One Price -One Ration), the ministry added.

'The Central Government fully bears the food subsidy for procuring, allocating, transporting and delivering the foodgrains till the designated depot in the States with the help of the two food subsidy schemes, namely, Food Subsidy to FCI and Food Subsidy to Decentralized Procurement (DCP) States,' the ministry informed.

These two food subsidy schemes have been subsumed as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for effective and uniform implementation of the NFSA as also to strengthen the food security network in the country.

'Under this scheme, free foodgrains are being distributed through Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) from 1st January 2023. The additional cost of making foodgrains free of cost to the NFSA beneficiaries is being borne by Government of India,' the statement said.

The NFSA 2013 provides for coverage of up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population, which as per Census 2011 comes to 81.35 crore persons.

'The Coverage under the Act is substantially high to ensure that all the vulnerable and needy sections of the society get its benefit. At present, against the intended coverage of 81.35 crore, 80.48 crore beneficiaries are identified by the States/UTs under the Act for distribution of free foodgrains under the PMGKAY,' the ministry said. PTI MJH MR

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