NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 29: With general elections scheduled for April-May next year, the Government on Wednesday extended the PMGKAY scheme to provide 5 kgs of free food grains per month to 81.35 crore poor for another 5 years that would cost the exchequer about Rs 11.80 lakh crore.
A decision in this regard was taken in the meeting of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday.
Giving details on Wednesday, Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said, “The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) has been extended for another 5 years from January 1, 2024.” The Minister said the expenditure on scheme will be around Rs 11.8 lakh crore over the next 5 years.
The scheme was last extended till December 31, 2023.
“Keeping in view welfare of the beneficiaries and in order to strengthen the food security in terms of accessibility, affordability and availability of food grains for the targeted population, and to maintain uniformity across the states, the decision has been taken to continue providing food grains, free of cost, under PMGKAY for 5 years”, an official release said.
PMGKAY was introduced in 2020 as a pandemic relief measure, under which 5 kg of free food grains per beneficiary per month was provided in addition to the 5 kg of subsidised foodgrain under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
In December 2022, as PMGKAY came to an end after multiple extensions, it was subsumed under the NFSA providing ration free for 1 year.
Under the NFSA, up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population are being covered under 2 categories ~ Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and priority households.
While AAY households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, are entitled to 35 kg of food grains per family per month, priority households get 5 kg per person per month.
Terming it as a historic decision, the Government said the extension of free grain distribution under the PMGKAY for next 5 years reflects the long-term commitment and vision of the Government for addressing national food and nutrition security.
This should help mitigate any financial hardship of the affected strata of society in a sustainable manner and ensure long term pricing strategy with zero cost to the beneficiaries, which is vital for effective penetration of the Public Distribution System, it said in a statement.
For example, the economic cost of 35 kg rice for an Antyodaya family comes to Rs 1,371, while the cost of 35 kg wheat comes to Rs 946, which is being borne by the Central Government under PMGKAY, and the food grains are provided completely free to the families, it said.
Thus, the monthly savings of ration card holders are significant, on account of the free food grains, it added.
Free grains will be distributed through a network of over 5 lakh fair price shops under a common logo. Beneficiaries can lift their entitled grains from any fair price shop in the country under the One Nation One Ration Card initiative. (PTI)