Free ration scheme, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, extended for next three months
The free ration scheme, popularly known as the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), has been extended for the next three months, the government announced on Wednesday. Union minister Anurag Thakur said the Central cabinet has decided to extend the PMGKAY scheme for the next 3 months.
The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) was launched in March 2020 to provide free 5 kg foodgrains per person per month to about 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The free ration scheme was introduced to reduce the hardship of the beneficiaries during the lockdown period which was imposed due to the then raging coronavirus. This was over and above the general allocation under the NFSA.
Before its extension, the free ration scheme was valid till 30 September. Since the Central government has extended the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the free ration scheme will now be valid until 31 December.
When the free ration scheme was introduced, in 2020-21, the PMGKAY scheme was announced only for a period of three months — April, May and June 2020 (Phase-I). Later, the government extended the scheme from July to November 2020 (Phase-II).
As Covid-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc across the country, the government reintroduced the free ration scheme for two more months of May and June 2021. It was again extended for five more months till November 2021.In Phase V, the free ration scheme was extended for the fifth time till March 2022. On March 26, the Centre extended the scheme to provide 5 kg of foodgrains free of cost to the poor by six months till September 30 at a cost of ₹80,000 crore.
The total expenditure under PMGKAY has touched nearly ₹3.40 lakh crore.
The free grains are over and above the normal quota provided under the NFSA at a highly subsidised rate of ₹2-3 per kg. The government has allocated over 1,000 lakh tonnes of free foodgrains under the PMGKAY till Phase VI.