According to an Indian Express report, hardly 19,496 ton out of the total monthly allocation of 1.95 lakh metric ton (LMT) pulses under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), have been issued by the states till April 22, revealed the data compiled by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. The ministry is involved in monitoring the supply of essential items during the nationwide lockdown.
The responsibility of ensuring the supply of pulses from the buffer stocks has been given to the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), which is under the administrative control of the Agriculture Ministry.
The Finance Ministry stated in a statement on "Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Progress So Far" on April 23 stated that "1,09,227 MT of Pulses have also been dispatched" to various states and Union Territories (UTs).
The Food Ministry's data, however, revealed that against a monthly allocation of 1,95,531 MT pulses under PMGKAY, to provide pulses free of cost to 19.55 crore families under NFSA, only 1,22,312 MT have been issued to states. The data further shows that out of this, 44,932 MT have been sent to "destination" states, 34,768 MT received by these states, and only 19,496 MT distributed to the beneficiaries.
Despite the announcement of PMGKAY on March 26, a day after PM Modi announced nationwide lockdown to contain novel coronavirus, the apathy in distribution is due to delay in the milling process by NAFED, sources in the Food Ministry have informed.
"We have to distribute free pulses to 19.55 crore families for three months across all 36 states and UTs. In big states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the number of eligible beneficiaries is quite high and, therefore, the allocation is high, (so) we are taking some time," a senior official of NAFED was quoted as saying. He added that NAFED is sending pulses to these states.
According to the official pulses have been dispatched to UTs such as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry and Chandigarh, and smaller states such as Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. "Buffer stock of pulses is always kept un-milled (whole), and the milling process takes some time," the official further said.
The central nodal agency for procurement of notified agricultural commodities, including pulses, NAFED is under the Price Support Scheme run by the Agriculture Ministry.
The agency also maintains a buffer stock of pulses under the Price Stabilisation Fund Scheme administered by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
Earlier the Food Ministry officials had flagged a slow response in the supply of pulses to the states. The Cabinet Secretary is learnt to have directed the concerned officials from the Agriculture Ministry and NAFED to speed up supply.
"To ensure adequate availability of protein to all the above-mentioned individuals, 1 kg pulses per family would be provided according to regional preferences for the next three months. These pulses would be provided free of cost by the Government of India.," the government stated in a statement issued on March 26.
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