- Recently, thirteen states have started distributing foodgrains under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY).
- The scheme has been rolled out again for two months (May and June 2021) as the country’s healthcare infrastructure has reached its capacity and several states have taken steps like complete lockdown, night curfew to contain the spread of the disease.
- PMGKAY is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19.
- Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance.
- It was initially announced for a three month period (April, May and June 2020), covering 80 crore ration cardholders. Later it was extended till November 2020.
- However in April 2021, the government had announced its decision to restart the PMGKAY.
- The scheme aimed at providing each person who is covered under the National Food Security Act 2013 with an additional 5 kg grains (wheat or rice) for free, in addition to the 5 kg of subsidised foodgrain already provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS).
- The new version of the PMGKAY lacks one of its important components which was there in 2020 PMGKAY i:e free-of-cost 1 kg pulses per month to each household covered under the NFSA.
- Government of India will bear all expenditure of over Rs. 26,000 crore on account of food subsidy and Central assistance to states/UTs on account of intra-state transportation etc.
- Out of a total monthly allocation of 39.69 lakh Metric Tonnes (MT) under the PMGKAY, 15.55 lakh MT have been lifted by states.
- lakh MT have been distributed to 2.03 crore beneficiaries till May 2021.
- A key issue is that the beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act are based on the last census (2011). The number of food-insecure people has increased since then and they remain uncovered.
SOURCE: THE HINDU , THE ECONOMIC TIMES , MINT