Enough foodgrain stock is lying in godowns of state governments which they can lift from Friday onwards for free distribution to 8 crore migrants who do not have ration cards to avail such supplies, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said.
Paswan hailed the government's decision to distribute free 5 kg rice or wheat per person and 1 kg chana per family to migrants for the next two months, as part of the second tranche of the economic stimulus package to help those affected due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
"There is adequate stock of foodgrains lying with state godowns. Our ministry is fully prepared to supply ration to 8 crore migrants. These additional 10 per cent poor do not have ration cards, but will get the benefit of free dry ration," Paswan told PTI after the announcement.
The state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI), which is the government's nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains, has been directed to make necessary arrangements for this purpose, he said.
"Once the order is issued, states can immediately lift from tomorrow the grains from godowns and start distribution to migrants through the Public Distribution System (PDS)," Paswan said.
For instance in Bihar, over 14 lakh poor who are not yet covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or any state ration card scheme will benefit, he explained.
Likewise across the country, there are around 40 lakh poor whom the states have not yet identified for coverage under the NFSA, the minister said. "They all will be benefited."
Paswan also mentioned that it is the responsibility of the state governments now to identify the poor migrants and ensure free supplies reach them. States can send the details of migrant beneficiaries to the central government later, he added.
About Rs 3,500 crore will be spent for this intervention by the centre.
Currently, the FCI has a foodgrain stock of over 671 lakh tonnes, of which rice is 271 lakh tonnes and wheat 400 lakh tonnes, as per official data.