The Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), a free ration scheme benefitting 80 crore people in the country, will be extended till November-end, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his live address on Tuesday (June 30). This extension would cost the government over ₹90 thousand crore, he said.
In his speech, which was his sixth address to the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the prime minister said that free foodgrains will be provided to 80 crore people in the country under this scheme that now stands extended till November-end.
“Under PMGKAY, the government will provide free ration to 80 crore poor brothers-sisters for the next five months. Every member of the family will get 5 kg wheat or rice. Every family will also get one kg whole chana per month, free of cost,” said the prime minister.
He said the extension was planned keeping in mind the upcoming festive season that would last till Diwali and Chhath Puja in November. He also mentioned the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme which he said will benefit migrant workers who had no fixed income.
“Today, if the government is able to provide free food grains to the poor and the needy, the credit goes to two sections: first, the hardworking farmers of our country and second, the honest taxpayers. I thank you from my heart,” the prime minister added.
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“Under PMGKAY, we had announced a ₹1.75 lakh crore package. In the last three months, ₹31,000 crore was deposited in bank accounts of 20 crore poor families. Also, ₹18000 crore was deposited in bank accounts of more than nine crore farmers,” he recalled.
His address came at a time when the country is fighting the dual challenge of the pandemic and border tensions with China. The prime minister’s speech, however, focused only on the pandemic issue and didn’t mention anything about the tensions in eastern Ladakh.
India will be entering “unlock 2” phase from Wednesday (July 1) for which guidelines were issued by the Union home ministry on Monday night, further easing the curbs imposed due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The lockdown has been in place since March 25.
Urging the citizens to take care of themselves, he said that in comparison to other nations across the globe, India is still in a very stable situation in the battle against COVID-19, and that the government’s timely decisions and measures have played a great role.
“Ever since Unlock-1 started in the country, negligence in personal and social behaviour has been increasing. Earlier, we were more cautious about the use of masks, do gaj doori and washing hands several times a day for 20 seconds,” the prime minister said.
“During lockdown, rules were strictly followed. Now, the governments, local administration and citizens again have to show similar caution. We need to specially focus on containment zones. If you see someone flouting norms, tell them to not do so,” Modi added.
The prime minister had last addressed the nation on May 12 when he had announced a ₹20-lakh-crore financial package to boost the economy recovering from the lockdown. In his recent interaction with the chief ministers, he had urged them to think about phase 2 of unlocking to boost the economy hit by the pandemic and the nationwide lockdown.
In his monthly “Mann ki Baat” address on Sunday, he had asserted that India has given a befitting reply to those who cast an evil eye on its territory in Ladakh. On COVID-19, he had urged people to be more vigilant in the unlock phase and take necessary precautions, stressing that not doing so will put at risk their lives and those of others.
In his first March 19 address, Modi announced a “janata curfew” or public curfew on March 22. On March 24, the prime minister had announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown, and on April 14, extended it till May 3. On April 3, in a video message, Modi had asked the country to light lamps for the frontline corona warriors on April 5.
The lockdown was further extended till May 17 by the home ministry. Now, the country is in the phase 1 of ‘unlock’ and the month-long phase 2 begins on July 1.