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PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana Extended by Cabinet, Ensuring Free Foodgrain Scheme for Another Five Years

The government announced that the estimated food subsidy over five years for the distribution of food grains under the PMGKAY will amount to Rs. 11.80 lakh crore.

Shivangi Rai
The Union government had launched the PMGKAY in April 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo: Freepik)
The Union government had launched the PMGKAY in April 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo: Freepik)

The Union Cabinet has given the green light to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for five more years starting in January in light of the upcoming elections and the impending general elections.

This program, falling under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), aims to provide free food grains to a staggering 81.35 crore people. The government estimates the scheme will incur subsidies of Rs 11.80 lakh over the next five years, as per an official statement.

The announcement of the scheme's extension was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during election rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in November. Initially launched in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PMGKAY provided an additional 5 kg of free food grains to individuals on top of their NFSA entitlement of subsidized food grains.

Under NFSA, the government offers rice at Rs 3 per kg, wheat at Rs 2 per kg, and coarse grains at Rs 1 per kg.

In December of the previous year, the government merged PMGKAY with NFSA, intending to provide free foodgrains to NFSA beneficiaries according to their entitlement for the year starting January 2023. However, the additional quantity of 5 kg provided under PMGKAY was discontinued.

During the latest Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi, the extension of the scheme was approved. The official statement emphasized that the extension, which runs for five years from January 1, 2024, will fortify food security and alleviate financial hardship for the poor and vulnerable. It aims to establish nationwide consistency in delivering free foodgrains to all states and union territories through a network of over 5 lakh Fair Price Shops under a common logo. This move also supports the One Nation One Ration Card initiative, making it convenient for beneficiaries to collect free food grains from any fair-price shop across the country.

To illustrate the cost savings for ration cardholders, the statement provided an example. The economic cost of 35 kg of rice for an Antyodaya family is Rs 1371, and the cost of 35 kg of wheat is Rs 946.

Under PMGKAY, the Government of India bears these costs, making the foodgrains entirely free for families. The statement highlighted the significant monthly savings for ration cardholders due to the provision of free food grains.

The extension of PMGKAY for five more years aims to enhance food security, ease financial burdens for the underprivileged, and establish uniformity in the distribution of free food grains throughout the country. This initiative aligns with the One Nation One Ration Card approach, making it easier for beneficiaries to access essential food items across state borders.

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