Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will extend its free ration scheme by six months till May 2022. Kejriwal also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the Centre's free ration scheme for six months through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).
In a letter to PM Modi, the chief minister said inflation is at its peak and the common man is struggling to manage even two square meals a day.
"Inflation is at its peak. The common man is struggling to manage even two square meals a day. Many have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Prime minister sir, please extend the scheme of supplying free ration to the poor by six months. The Delhi government is extending its free ration scheme for the next six months," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Kejriwal's remarks came a day after Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the Centre had no proposal to extend distribution of free ration through the PMGKAY beyond November 30.
The Delhi government distributes free ration to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, and the PMGKAY.
The city has over 2,000 fair price shops, 17.77 lakh ration card holders and around 72.78 lakh beneficiaries.
The free ration is given over and above subsidised grains distributed through the fair price ration shops.
The PMGKAY was launched in March last year to lessen the distress caused by COVID-19. Initially, the scheme was launched for April-June last year, but was later extended to November 30.
Later, Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Modi and urged him to extend the Centre’s free ration scheme by six months to benefit the poor.
In his letter, the chief minister said that during COVID-19 times, the central government had given equal quantity of free ration to ration card holders over and above the monthly subsidised food grains. Other than the Centre's scheme, the Delhi government has made free the monthly ration too for beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Kejriwal said that these efforts of the central and the Delhi governments helped the poor a lot.
“These schemes of both the governments are ending in November. The central government has announced that this scheme will not be extended after November. Many people have lost their jobs in Covid times and they don't have any source of earning,” he said.
“So, I request you to extend this additional free ration scheme for six months. The Delhi government is also extending its free ration scheme for six months,” Kejriwal said in his letter.
He also tweeted the letter and urged the prime minister to extend the Centre’s free ration scheme for six months.
“Have requested the PM to extend the free ration scheme for six months. People are in trouble these days (due to COVID-19). It will not be fair to leave their (people's) hand at this time,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
(with PTI inputs)