Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday (August 7) that as many as 80 crore Indians got free ration during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
These include five crore people from Madhya Pradesh, PM Modi said, during a video interaction with Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana beneficiaries from the state.
Describing the coronavirus pandemic as the biggest disaster faced by humanity in the last 100 years, PM Modi also said people should continue to wear masks, sanitise hands and maintain social distancing to check the spread of the virus.
“India gave the first priority to the poor in its strategy to combat the crisis due to coronavirus. Be it Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana or Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana, we thought about food and employment of the poor from day one itself,” he said.
Stressing his government’s ‘vocal for local’ initiative, PM Modi said Indians should buy handicraft items during the festival season to encourage those working in this sector.
“Five kg per person per month to be provided to nearly 80 crore beneficiaries free of cost, covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) over and above NFSA foodgrains for next two months i.e. May and June 2021,” declared a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in April this year.
“The Government of India will bear all expenditure of over ₹26,000 crore on account of food subsidy and Central assistance to states/UTs on account of intrastate transportation etc,” the release said.
In June this year, the PM had announced that the government will distribute free foodgrains to around 80 crore poor people till Diwali amid the second COVID wave.
The Department of Food & Public Distribution, under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, had written to the Food & Civil Supplies Departments of all states, saying foodgrains and other basics should be provided to the needy. The governments should take care of the street-dwellers, ragpickers, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, migrant labourers and others, who are in dire need of foodgrains but are unable to procure ration cards for want of address proof, it said.
The PMGKAY scheme was also implemented during the April-November period of 2020. The scheme was introduced for May-June 2021 to deal with the impact of second wave of COVID-19. That was extended to Diwali this year.