NEW DELHI: The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, providing free ration to 80 crore people, will be extended till November, involving Rs 90,000 crore expenditure.
The scheme has been in operation for the past three months so that the poor and marginalised, suffering on account of loss of income due to Covid-19, do not remain hungry. Together with this extension, the scheme will cost Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
Announcing this in a 16-minute address to the nation that had no mention of China, PM Narendra Modi said that during monsoon, activities around the farm sector increase while decreasing in other sectors. This coupled with a number of festivals between July and November added to the expenses of people.
Keeping these factors in view, the scheme which entailed 5 kg wheat or rice per person and 1 kg of pulses per family every month was being extended.
The announcement comes after Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to PM Modi on June 22, pressing for the extension of the scheme till September as unemployment was on the rise on account of the pandemic and lockdown curbs. Earlier in the day, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi suggested direct cash transfer of Rs 7,500 per month to the poor.
The Prime Minister said that during the last three months, the government had given Rs 31,000 crore to 20 crore poor households through direct benefit transfer, deposited Rs 18,000 crore in bank accounts of 9 crore farmers and was spending Rs 50,000 crore on employment of workers in rural areas.
The world, PM Modi said, was both surprised and amazed that India was providing free ration to 80 crore people for the last three months. The beneficiaries were over 2.5 times the population of the United States, 12 times the population of the United Kingdom and double the population of the European Union.
Underscoring that the scourge of virus was around, PM Modi said people strictly followed the rules of wearing face mask, hand hygiene and social distancing during the lockdown, but were now becoming negligent. Governments, local bodies and citizens should show similar alertness by stopping and cautioning those not adhering to the rules, especially in containment zones.
Mentioning the news about a PM of a country being fined for not wearing a mask in public place, he said the local administration in the country should work with similar enthusiasm. “Be it a village pradhan or the Prime Minister, no one is above law in India”. The instance PM mentioned was of Bulgarian PM Boiko Borissov, who faced Euro 150 penalty for visiting a monastery without a mask.
Modi On foodgrain
- Over Rs90,000 cr to be spent on extension of PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana by 5 months. By adding the last 3 months’ expenditure on the free ration, the total budget will be Rs1.5 lakh crore
- The scheme entails 5-kg wheat or rice per person and 1 kg of pulses per family every month
On direct benefit transfer
- In last 3 months, Rs31,000 cr was given to 20 cr poor households through direct benefit transfer; Rs18,000 cr deposited in bank accounts of 9 cr farmers; and Rs50,000 cr was being spent on jobs for workers in rural areas.
On beating Covid
- People mustn’t lower their guard. Governments, local bodies and citizens must show alertness by cautioning those not adhering to rules.“Be it a village pradhan or the PM, no one is above law in India”