NEW DELHI, June 30 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), a programme to provide free ration for over 80 crore people, mostly poor, by five more months till November end. In a televised address to the nation, the prime minister said over Rs 90,000 crore will be spent on the programme’s extension, and if the last three months expenditure on account of the free ration scheme is added then the total budget will be about Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
The scheme was rolled out for three months from April soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced to combat the COVID-19.
Modi noted that July marks the beginning of the festive season when people’s needs as well as expenditure increase.
“Keeping all these things in mind, it has been decided to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana up to Diwali and Chhath Puja till the November end,” Modi said on the eve of the start of ‘Unlock-2’ for a graded exit from the national lockdown that was imposed on March 25. ‘Unlock-1’ ends on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister said in his 16-minute address that the central government is also working on the “one nation, one ration card” initiative which, he added, will benefit people living outside their home for employment and other needs the most. This is Modi’s sixth address to the nation after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Underscoring the enormity of the free ration scheme, Modi said it covers two and half times the population of the United States, 12 times the population of the United Kingdom and double the population of the European Union.
Each member of a family covered under the scheme will get five kilogram wheat or rice, and every family will get one kilogram whole gram per month as well.
Highlighting his government’s pro-poor measures during the lockdown, he said it had announced Rs 1.75 lakh crore package for the poor earlier, with Rs 31,000 crore transferred to 20 crore poor families under direct benefit transfer and Rs 18,000 crore given to nine crore farmers.
The Union government, he added, is also spending Rs 50,000 crore for providing employment to people in rural India. – PTI