Govt provides free ration to 55 cr people in May

New Delhi, Jun 3 (Mayank Nigam) The government on Thursday said it has provided 28 lakh tonne foodgrains free of cost to about 55 crore beneficiaries in May through ration shops under a scheme to provide relief to the people during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, about 1.3 lakh tonne of wheat and rice have been provided to 2.6 crore beneficiaries so far in June under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.

The information was provided by Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey at a media briefing. Elaborating on the implementation of the PMGKAY scheme, he said more than 63.67 lakh tonne foodgrains (around 80 per cent of total PMGKAY allocation for May and June 2021) have been lifted by states and UTs from FCI (Food Corporation of India) depot so far. Under the PMGKAY, the Centre is distributing free foodgrains for two months (May-June 2021). It is providing 5kg per person per month to approximately 79.39 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

Nearly 80 lakh tonne foodgrains have to be issued under the PMGKAY scheme. This distribution is over and above the regular allocation to beneficiaries under the food law. ‘Around 28 lakh tonne foodgrains have been distributed by 34 States/UTs to around 55 crore NFSA beneficiaries for May 2021 and around 1.3 Lakh MT foodgrains have been distributed to around 2.6 Crore NFSA beneficiaries for June 2021, after following due COVID protocols,’ Pandey said. According to him, as of Thursday, under National Food Security Act, foodgrains have been distributed to around 90 per cent and 12 per cent of NFSA beneficiaries for May and June 2021, respectively, incurring a food subsidy of more than Rs 13,000 cr for May and June 2021.

The food subsidy incurred for PMGKAY, so far, is more than Rs 9,200 crore for May and June 2021. Emphasising the importance of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC), the secretary said it is an ambitious plan and endeavour of the department to introduce the nationwide portability of ration cards under the NFSA. Pandey said that currently, a monthly average of about 1.35 crore portability transactions are being recorded under the ONORC plan (including intra-state transactions). Further, a total of nearly 27.8 crore portability transactions have taken place all across states and UTs since the inception of the ONORC plan from August 2019, out of which almost 19.8 crore portability transactions have been recorded during the COVID-19 period (April 2020 to May 2021).

Given the potential of the ONORC plan to ensure the access to NFSA foodgrains to migrant beneficiaries during the COVID-19 crisis, the food ministry ‘has been continuously pursuing with States/ UTs through video conference meetings/advisories/ letters etc to implement the programme to its full potential by proactively reaching out to the migrant beneficiaries, said an official release. Pandey also said ONORC has already been implemented in 32 states and UTs. He expects that the remaining four states and UTs — Assam, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Delhi — too would be implementing the scheme in the next few months. Bihar, Rajashtan and Andhra Pradesh are the top-performing states in ONORC transactions.