As many as 10 states and union territories have asked for extending the free distribution of foodgrains and pulses to poor and migrants, including non-ration card holders, for another three months, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana (PMGAY), the government is distributing 5 kg food grains per person and 1 kg pulses per family for free for April-June, and also providing the same quantity of free grains and pulses to 8 crore migrants, who don't have either central or state ration card, for June-July.
This was announced as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore 'Aatma Nirbhar' package to help those affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
"We have received requests from 10 states/UTs for extension of these two schemes for another three months. We are examining the matter and accordingly take a call on moving a Cabinet proposal," Paswan told reporters.
Assam, Karnataka, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh are among the states which have sought extension of free food distribution to the poor and migrant labourers, he said.
Paswan said that there is no shortage of foodgrains in the central pool and appealed to the state governments to lift grains in advance ahead of monsoon and ensure timely distribution to the poor under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
Food Corporation of India (FCI) Chairman and Managing Director DV Prasad said that distribution of free grains under PMGAY and to migrants are in the final stage.
The distribution is in progress in all states but a bit slow in states like Bihar and Maharashtra, he added.
Earlier, Paswan also mentioned that there is a record level of wheat procurement this year.
There is no concern about storage space as the capacity at present is to keep more than 80 million tonnes of grains, while the annual requirement is 60 million tonnes, the minister said.
The storage concern is only in Punjab and Haryana from where maximum grains are procured but it is a short term problem as grains keep moving from godowns for distribution, he added.