Govt stops free ration to J&K beyond Nov 30

Centre to bear addl burden of Rs 67,266 crore

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Nov 6: The Central Government has stopped distribution of free ration among the AAY and PHH/ BPL category people under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana beyond November 30.

Official sources in J&K told the ‘Excelsior’ that the Union Government has no proposal to extend distribution of free ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) from December 2021 onwards in view of recovery in the economy.

“The Union Government today said there was no proposal at present to extend the distribution of free ration as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKAY-3) beyond November 30,” the sources added.

“It’s because the economy is reviving and the open market sale scheme disposal of food-grains has been exceptionally good this year,” an order issued by Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said.

Sources said the PMGKAY was announced in March 2020 to address the COVID pandemic crisis. Initially, the Scheme was launched for the April-June 2020 period but was further extended till November 30, 2021.

“Under the PMGKAY, the Union Government supplied free ration to 800 million ration card holders identified under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The free ration is given over and above the subsidised grains distributed to them through ration shops. The Government has been giving rice and wheat to bulk consumers under the OMSS policy to improve availability in the domestic market and check prices,” the sources added.

“According to official estimates, the Central Government will bear an additional expenditure of Rs 67,266.44 crore on extending the free food grains distribution programme for five months starting from July, which together with the Rs 26,602 crore extra spending on the Scheme for May and June entailed a total expected extra expenditure of Rs 93,868 crore on free food during Financial Year 2022. This additional subsidy expenditure of around Rs 93,868 crore will be over and above the Budget Estimates of Rs 242,836 crore of food subsidy in Financial Year 2022,” sources revealed.

Director, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Jammu, Naseem Javid Choudhary when contacted said that the Union Government in a communiqué has conveyed its decision to the J&K UT Administration. He said in Phase-III the Central Government provided free ration to the PHH and AAY category people in J&K from July 2021 to November 2021. Even last year, it had provided free ration to the public during Covid.

The Director further said that under PMGKAY, the poor category people were provided ration at the scale of 5 kg per soul per family. This includes 4 kg wheat and one kg rice per soul. In the districts/ regions, where eating habits of people are different, the ration scale is also different. In Jammu district, the people were provided Atta instead of wheat.

Responding to yet another question, Choudhary said about 28 lakh souls were benefitted under the Scheme in the region. They included nearly 7 lakh families under PHH and nearly 79,000 under AAY. Nearly same figure will be in Valley. This Scheme was launched by the Central Government for helping poor people during COVID pandemic and a big relief was provided to the poor people by the Government Entire distribution of this ration was done through digitalization with least scope of pilferage and even for the routine supplies as well entire system has been digitalized, the Director claimed. (Daily excelsior)

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