Free grains scheme costing Rs 2 lakh crore, helped reduce hunger: PM

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August 04, 2021 2:17 AM

Launching an awareness campaign about the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) in Gujarat, Modi said: “The country is spending over Rs 2 lakh crore on this account... The free rations reduced distress for the poor and gave them confidence”.

Retail food inflation inched up to 5.15% in June from 5.01% in May, mainly due to higher prices of edible oils and fat.Retail food inflation inched up to 5.15% in June from 5.01% in May, mainly due to higher prices of edible oils and fat.

Having come under attack by the Opposition parties on the issue of rising prices, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday stressed that several schemes have been launched since 2014 to benefit the poor, including the free food grains scheme that helped alleviate hunger during the pandemic period.

Launching an awareness campaign about the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) in Gujarat, Modi said: “The country is spending over Rs 2 lakh crore on this account… The free rations reduced distress for the poor and gave them confidence”.

Retail inflation stayed above the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) tolerance level for a second straight month in June (6.26%), as price pressure remained elevated across food and fuel segments. Wholesale price inflation eased in June to 12.07% from a series-high of 12.94% in the previous month but price pressure in fuel and manufactured items still remained high. Chief economic adviser KV Subramanian said recently that retail inflation could come in at less than 6% in July.

Retail food inflation inched up to 5.15% in June from 5.01% in May, mainly due to higher prices of edible oils and fat.

Under PMGKAY, all the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) are entitled to receive same amount of rice and wheat – 5 kg per person per month – extra, free of cost.

Modi had said on Monday said that direct benefit transfer has helped the government save Rs 1.75 lakh crore (as on March 31, 2020), while seeking to aid people under various welfare, subsidy and other schemes.

The Cabinet on June 23 approved extension of free food grains distribution under PMGKAY for another five months till end of November. The scheme that was initially rolled out for two months (May-June) would now entail a total expenditure of about Rs 94,000 crore for the seven-month period. In FY21, when a similar scheme was run during April-November, the government spent Rs 1.2 lakh crore on PMGKAY.

The country’s food stocks kept increasing, but starvation and malnutrition did not decrease in that proportion, Modi said. Identifying lack of an effective delivery system as a major reason for the failure of schemes, Modi said crores of fake beneficiaries were weeded out of the system using new technology and ration cards were linked with Aadhaar.

In the Global Hunger Index (GHI), India ranked 94 in 2020, improving its position from 102 in 2019. Stating that the country has shown consistent improvement over the years, minister of state for food Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti on Tuesday said in the Lok Sabha that the composite GHI scores of India improved to 27.2 in 2020 from 38.9 in 2000.

Modi also said that there was a time when development was limited to big cities. It meant development works were earlier not concerned with common man and away from villages, he said. There has been a change in this concept of development since past few years, Modi said, adding that besides infrastructure development and thereby creating jobs, empowerment of the poor is currently the top priority for the government.

Meanwhile, led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, many opposition MPs rode cycles to Parliament to protest fuel price hikes. Congress party has been criticising the government for not controlling price rise of many essential commodities for which fuel price hike is considered a major contributing factor.

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