About 120 lakh metric tonnes food grains are being distributed to two-thirds of India’s population, or 80 crore individuals, to help them tide over the lockdown phase, necessitated by the onset of coronavirus pandemic in the country.
A government release said on Wednesday that as part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), the entire cost of procuring and transferring the food grains was being borne by the central government. The PMGKAY was launched by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26, the food security and direct benefit transfer being the two major components of the government’s relief package to help the citizens tide over the coronavirus crisis.
“Government has ensured that all priority households (PHH) under NFSA gets double their usual allocation during three months of April, May and June 2020 along with each Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) beneficiary getting an extra 5 Kg/month than their normal quota of 35 Kg per card per month,” said the release.
Already, approximately Rs 35,000 crore are believed to have been transferred by Centre into the bank accounts of economically vulnerable workers and farmers among others in both rural and urban areas.
In a review meeting presided by Sudhanshu Pandey, the Secretary at Department of Food and Public Distribution, it was learnt that more than 69 lakh metric tonnes of food grains had been supplied to the states and union territories. While five union territories had lifted their quota for three months, eighteen states and UTs had lifted their two months of supply. Fourteen states had so far procured their month’s quota each, the government release said.
The government has highlighted that it was paying Rs 39 a kilogram for rice and Rs 28 per kg for wheat, which included transporting the food grains from the farmer’s field to the shops.