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Last Updated : Jul 01, 2020 08:12 PM IST | Source: PTI

Be more sensitive to poor; implement PMGKAY proactively: Ram Vilas Paswan to laggard states

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), announced as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package to help those affected due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, was earlier valid for a three-month period from April to June. The same has been extended for five months till November.

PTI

Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday said some states like West Bengal and Bihar are lagging behind in distribution of free ration under the PMGKAY and they should be more "sensitive" towards the poor during this COVID-19 crisis and take proactive measures.

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), announced as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package to help those affected due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, was earlier valid for a three-month period from April to June. The same has been extended for five months till November.

More than 80 crore people will be provided 5 kg free wheat/rice per month along with 1 kg free whole chana to each family per month under the scheme. This is over and above the subsidised grains given under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

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"We have no problem in providing foodgrains to states. When it is being given free, I don't understand what is the problem with states in distribution. We are taking this issue seriously," Paswan said at a digital press conference.

Several letters have been written to laggard states and even spoken to chief ministers and food ministers of those states, he claimed. "Despite all efforts, they are not taking any action. They should be more sensitive towards the poor in this crisis and take proactive steps."

As per the latest data, West Bengal has not begun the distribution of June month quota of free ration under the PMGKAY, while only 47 percent achieved in Bihar, 48 percent in Madhya Pradesh, 60 percent in Manipur and 66 percent in Delhi in the same period.

Paswan said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the PMGKAY for next five months, even though 22 state chief ministers had sought for only three months.

"We thank the Prime Minister for this. Our ministry has given direction to all states to begin lifting the grains for distribution for next five months immediately. There is no shortage of foodgrains with us," he said.

The minister also mentioned that the states should plan and lift the grains immediately from the state-owned FCI godowns so that they do not face problems in distribution during the rainy season, he said.

About 93 percent foodgrains distribution achieved in the month of April and May, respectively, while only 75 percent distribution took place in June under the PMGKAY, he added.

There was less than 90 percent of foodgrains distribution during the April-June period in the states of West Bengal, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Delhi, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, data showed.

On pulses distribution under the PMGKAY, Paswan said 4.49 lakh tonnes of pulses have been distributed so far against the target of 5.87 lakh tonnes for the April-June period.

On availability of chana (gram) for distribution in next five months under the scheme, he said the government has more than 29.49 lakh tonnes of this pulse in stock, sufficient to meet the demand under the PMGKAY.

Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the distribution of free grains and pulses under the PMGKAY and to migrant labourers would cost the exchequer Rs 1,48,938 crore.

This includes Rs 1,22,839 crore for free grains and Rs 11,800 crore for pulses under the PMGKAY.

Under Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme for migrant labourers, the food secretary said the cost of free grain distribution for May-June was Rs 3,109.52 crore. The foregone cost of Central Issue Price for foodgrains (which comes to approximately Rs 1,400 crore per month ) entails an expenditure of approximately Rs 11,200 crore.

"Thus, the estimated cost for distribution of food grains (rice and wheat) and pulses will be Rs 1,48,938 crore approximately," he added.

On ration card portability, Paswan said 20 states/UTs so far are ready with infrastructure to provide the service and the central government requests others to join at the earliest.

He said many states highlighted the challenges related to slow internet or limited connectivity and assured that he will take up these issues with the telecom ministry for appropriate solutions.

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First Published on Jul 1, 2020 08:00 pm
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