In March, the cabinet extended the scheme for 6 months until September 30. The fresh renewal of another three months marks the 7th phase of the food handout programme.
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, approved the continuation of the free ration scheme, PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY). It is a free food scheme launched as a Covid-relief measure in March 2020 and is extended up to 3 months spanning October-December, minister for information and broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur said.
Under this scheme, nearly 800 million people identified under provisions of the National Food Security Act 2013 have been getting 5 kg of food grain free of cost. This provision is in addition to their monthly quota of subsidised food grain. The food security Act applies to 67% of the country’s population, of which 75% is in rural areas and 50% in urban pockets.
In March, the cabinet extended the scheme for 6 months until September 30. The current renewal of another 3 months marks the 7th phase of this food handout programme.
The total cost of the scheme from its launch till December 2022 will be Rs 3.91 lakh crore, states a cabinet note. The cost for the October-December period will be Rs 44,762 crore.
The upcoming 3 months are a festive time and the government has adequate stocks of food grains. The impact of Covid is still significant in supply-line disruptions. So, the prime minister has decided to continue the scheme for another 3 months, Thakur said.
The decision to extend the PMGKAY came on the back of the inputs by the food ministry that current stocks of federally held grains would be adequate to continue the scheme, a person aware of the development said. According to the calculations of the food ministry, about 12.2 million tonnes of food grains would be required to run PMGKAY till December this year. The food and finance ministries held monthlong calculations for PMGKAY’s extension before the proposal was moved for Cabinet’s approval, the person said.