- The scheme was initiated in the wake of the nationwide lockdowns last year
- The govt provides of 5 kg food grain (wheat or rice) per person free of cost
- The scheme covers more than 80 crore people listed under the NFSA
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) till March next year, Union Minister Anurag Thakur told reports on Wednesday. Last year, the government had announced PM-GKAY for all beneficiaries covered by the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the wake of economic disruptions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
"It has been decided to extend the 'PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana' to provide free ration till March 2022," Thakur said.
This will cost an additional Rs 53,344 crore to the exchequer, he said, adding that the total cost of PMGKAY would reach about Rs 2.6 lakh crore, including this extension.
Earlier, activists of the 'Right to Food' campaign have demanded extension of the scheme. In a letter to Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal, the activists said, "Under PMGKAY in 2021, all persons with a 'priority' or AAY ration card under the National Food Security Act (2013) are receiving an additional 5 kg grain per person. This is a much-needed measure to support 80 crore Indians listed under the NFSA in coping with the economic distress caused due to the pandemic."
On November 5, banking on the revival of the economy and claiming its market interventions to keep prices in check are working, the Centre had announced to end the free distribution of ration under PMGKAY from November 30.
"Since the economy is reviving and our OMSS disposal also being exceptionally good this year, there is no proposal to extend this scheme," Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution (F&PD), had said.
The scheme -- initiated in the wake of the nationwide lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic -- envisaged the distribution of 5 kg food grain (wheat or rice) per person per month free of cost for a maximum of 81.35 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), including those covered under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).