The Centre on Monday said distribution of free foodgrains under the fourth phase of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) has started in seven states and about 14,700 tonnes have been given to beneficiaries so far. About 70.6 lakh tonnes of foodgrains were distributed in the third phase of PMGKAY between May and June, it said. On ration card portability facility, the government said the remaining four states — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal — are expected to come on board soon. PMGKAY was first introduced in 2020 for eight months to provide relief to 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from COVID-induced economic hardships.
The scheme was reintroduced this year for third phase implementation for two months till June and later extended till November under the fourth phase. Free grains are provided under PMGKAY over and above the quota allocated at highly subsidised rates under NFSA to these beneficiaries. Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said during the third phase of PMGKAY, "about 89 per cent of the allocated foodgrains was distributed to beneficiaries. The distribution was 94 per cent in May and it should reach that level in a week or so." There was a delay as states follow different cycles of distribution of ration. However, the distribution is picking up in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Jharkhand, he said in a virtual press briefing. "We are insisting states to distribute grains allocated under the NFSA and PMGKAY separately," he added.
Stating that distribution of free grains under the fourth phase of PMGKAY has begun, Pandey said the scheme will continue till November and is a massive intervention by the government to support the people during the pandemic. "Distribution of phase-IV foodgrains has commenced in seven states and union territories. And about 14,700 tonnes of foodgrains have been distributed till July 5," a senior food ministry official said. The Centre has already allocated 198.78 lakh tonnes of foodgrains for July-November period under the scheme to all states. Around 16 states/UTs have started lifting the grains. Nearly 4 lakh tonnes have been lifted by these states till July 5. Most states have assured that distribution would take place in a seamless manner, the official said.
The secretary said PMGKAY was implemented for eight months last year and this year it will be for seven months. The total expenditure for implementation of PMGKAY for 15 months would be Rs 2,28,000 crore. Sharing details on the progress made in implementation of ration card portability facility 'One Nation One Ration Card' (ONORC), Pandey said the government hopes the rest four states would come on board soon. "Delhi and West Bengal governments would be implementing it very soon.
The reason being…that all electronic point of sale (ePoS) machines are installed and testing is being done. Both teams are working in close coordination," he said. In Chhattisgarh, the procurement of ePoS machines has begun. About 4,000 machines are expected this month. Whereas in Assam, there is delay as Aadhaar penetration is very low at about 36-38 per cent, he added. Already 32 states/UTs have enabled ration card portability facilities under which beneficiaries can get their quota of foodgrain from any part of the country. According to the ministry, on average 1.5 crore monthly portability transactions are recorded covering about 69 crore beneficiaries.
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