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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Food Ministry silent on extending free grains scheme

The Prime Minister’s grain scheme or Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) is for a period of one year beginning January 1, 2023, according to the Union Food Ministry. A Ministry statement was released in a routine press release in New Delhi on November 15.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced 11 days ago at election rallies in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh that his government will extend the food grains scheme to 80 crore people for another five years. The scheme ends on December 31. The Opposition alleges the announcement is a clear violation of the model code of conduct.

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The Food Ministry said that the Government of India is bearing food subsidy for delivery of grains to designated depots in States under the PMGKAY. To aid poor beneficiaries and ensure nationwide uniformity and effective implementation of the National Food Security Act, the Centre is providing grain free to Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households and Priority Households (PHH) under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), for a period of one year beginning from 1st January 2023.

“A decision was taken to strengthen provisions of National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) in terms of accessibility, affordability and availability of grains for the poor and ensure effective and uniform implementation of the National Food Security Act,” the release added. It had no comment on Mr. Modi’s decision to extend the scheme. It is understood that the decision to extend the scheme has to be cleared by the Cabinet.

Violation of code

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh drew the Election Commission’s attention to Mr. Modi’s announcements. “Now, it turns out that the Union Cabinet has not yet approved the extension. Actually, it is not surprising since this is how Mr. Modi functions. The Cabinet is a non entity. First his announcement, then Cabinet approval,” Mr. Ramesh said on social media.

Mr. Modi said in Durg in Chattisgarh and Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on November 4 that he will extend the scheme. “The poor were getting free grain as part of PMGKAY. This scheme was going to end in December. But Modi has decided to extend the scheme for five years, 80 crore Indians will continue to get free grain. This is Modi’s guarantee,” he had said in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

The Ministry said on November 15 that two food subsidy schemes have been subsumed as PMGKAY for effective and uniform implementation of the National Food Security Act and to strengthen the food security network. “Under this scheme, free grain has been distributed through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) from January 1 2023. The additional cost of grain for NFSA beneficiaries is being borne by the Government of India,” the release added.

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