Food Corporation of India (FCI) transported 60 lakh tonnes of foodgrains from its godowns during April, up 57 percent from the previous high in March 2014, across the country for distribution through ration shops, the government said on Thursday.
To provide relief to the people during the current coronavirus pandemic, the Centre is supplying 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month to 80 crore people free of cost for the next three months under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY).
This is over and above the normal quota of 5 kg per person per month to around 80 crore people at Rs 2-3 per kg under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which was passed in 2013 to give legal entitlement.
State-owned FCI, the government's nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains, has "moved 60 lakh tonnes of foodgrains in the month of April 2020 surpassing the highest-ever single month movement of 38 lakh tonnes achieved during March 2014 by 57 percent".
This is more than two times the normal monthly average of about 30 lakh tonnes, an official statement said.
The quantity includes road movement of about 1 lakh tonnes to Kashmir Valley and Leh/Ladakh as well as about 0.81 lakh tonnes to northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. About 0.1 lakh tonnes stocks were also moved to the islands of Andaman and Lakshadweep by sea.
Amid the constraints created by the spread of COVID-19, FCI unloaded about 58 lakh tonnes of foodgrain stocks in various consuming states during this month.
Bihar received maximum stocks of about 7.7 lakh tonnes, followed by Karnataka with about 7 lakh tonnes.
"With COVID-19 situation remaining very dynamic and frequent additions to hotspots and containment zones, this has been particularly challenging as many of the unloading centres have been located in such areas," the food ministry said.
However, FCI has been able to manage unloading of foodgrain stocks even in affected areas and distribution of the same to states for supply under the public distribution system (PDS) with active cooperation of state governments.
The overall lifting of foodgrains from FCI under the PMGKAY has reached 60 lakh tonnes, which is 50 percent of the total allotment of about 120 lakh tonnes.
"Enough foodgrain stocks have been positioned across the country by FCI to meet any demand of state governments for feeding the people affected due to COVID-19," the statement said.
Meanwhile, procurement of wheat for the central pool crossed 130 lakh tonnes, with Punjab leading the chart with 68 lakh tonnes followed by Haryana (30 lakh tonnes) and Madhya Pradesh (25 lakh tonnes).
With steady inflows of foodgrains through procurement, the overall central pool stocks position remains stable even after release of about 122 lakh tonnes stocks under various schemes including NFSA and PMGKAY, the statement said.