States asked to speed up distribution of free foodgrains

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Published: July 2, 2020 12:01 AM

Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said there was enough stock of foodgrains and chana available with the Centre to meet the demand for next five months under the PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY).

The PMGKAY was announced in March by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman after the first announcement of lockdownThe PMGKAY was announced in March by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman after the first announcement of lockdown.

Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan has asked the states like Bihar and West Bengal to be ‘sensitive’ and speed up the distribution of the free food grains and pulses to help poor get the benefits in time. The appeal has come amid demand for the highly subsidised rice and wheat as states have also distributed regular grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in the range of 84-94% of the allocation.

The minister also said there was enough stock of foodgrains and chana available with the Centre to meet the demand for next five months under the PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY). The PMGKAY was announced in March by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman after the first announcement of lockdown. Prime minister Narendra Modi has extended it till November. The Centre provides 5 kg of rice or wheat per person and one kg of chana per family free of cost every month to all the 81 crore beneficiaries under the NFSA. This is over and above their regular entitlement through PDS.

While 28 states have distributed the entire April quota of pulses under the scheme, Madhya Pradesh (67%), Bihar (82%), Maharashtra (82%) and West Bengal (87%) still lag behind. The distribution of chana in these states are further lower in May and June. Not a single grain has been distributed in West Bengal in last two months and none in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh in June. These thee states have distributed 75% or less of their allocated quantity of rice during April-June. Delhi has distributed 100% of chana allocated by the Centre and 84% of wheat through ration shops.

Meanwhile, the Centre has also discontinued the free grains for an estimated 8 crore migrant workers under the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme after completion two months due to lack of response from the states. Only 2.13 crore migrant workers availed the benefit of free grains in May-June. As many as 12 states have distributed less than 1% food grains while 6 states said that they didn’t have any beneficiary under this scheme. Only seven states and union territories, including Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, have distributed 50% or more of the allocated grains to migrant workers.

The government has said that it has 1.30 lakh tonne of chana under the buffer stock, which will be replenished from the 28.19 lakh tonne of chana maintained by the agriculture ministry under the Price Support Scheme. The government needs over 9 lakh tonne of chana for distribution under the PMGKAY during July-November. The rice and wheat stocks in the Central Pool was 82 million tonne (excluding paddy) as on June 29. The government needs 20 million tonne additional food grains under the scheme in next five months.

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