Over one lakh tonnes of food grains were distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana in May, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said in a virtual press briefing on Monday.
The scheme was announced in March 2020 by the central government amid the first wave of the pandemic. The scheme was initially for three months, May, June, and July, but it was later extended till November 2020.
Two weeks ago, on April 23, the government restarted the scheme with a promise of distributing 40 lakh tonnes of free food grain to over 80 crore beneficiaries of the National Food Security act. Under the scheme, the NFSA beneficiaries get free 5 Kg of food grains monthly.
According to the government data, within 10 days of the scheme's resumption, over two crore people in 13 states have got the free food grains, reported The Hindu.
According to Joint Secretary S. Jagannathan, 15.5 lakh tonnes of food grains have been lifted from the Food Corporation of India's stock by 34 states. The distribution has been smooth due to the prior experience of implementing the PMGKAY in eight months of 2020.
Last year the nationwide lockdown had resulted in thousands of daily wage earners losing their jobs in cities. Many went back to their hometowns by cycle or on walking, but many stayed in cities. For those who stayed in cities, the scheme proved to be a crucial help. Karnataka had even merged the state's 'Anna Bhagya Scheme' with the PMGKAY.
Pandey said that, unlike last year, the migrants would not necessarily be facing any issues regarding food grains since there isn't any nationwide lockdown but only State and local lockdowns. The migrants can avail food grains from their native villages, while those in the cities can use the ration card portability scheme. For those with a discounted State ration card, the Centre is selling the food grain at a discounted rate to NGOs.
Right to Food Activists Plea
Right to Food activists had also filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court's suo moto case on migrant workers. The activists have urged the apex court to resume the scheme to provide free food grains to those without a ration card as the migrants are facing difficulties in the current lockdown as well. The petition had been filed by Harsh Mander, Anjali Bhardwaj, and Jagdeep Chhokar had sent an open letter to the Chief Justice and asked for minimum wage payment as cash transfers and transport facilities for the workers were required as well.