The central pool has wheat and rice stock of 6.9 crore tonnes, which is nearly three times more than the buffer requirement.
NEW DELHI: The government on Friday announced that 5kg of free wheat or rice per month will be provided to around 80 crore people for the next two months, May and June.
This will be extended to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and nearly 8 million tonnes of foodgrain will be distributed under this scheme.
The scheme, with an additional expenditure of nearly Rs 26,000 crore, is expected to bring relief to NFSA beneficiaries as it will be in addition to the regular entitlement of 5kg highly subsidised foodgrains to each beneficiary at Rs 3, 2 and 1 per kg of rice, wheat and coarse grains.
The announcement came amid some states imposing lockdowns to beat the pandemic, which is likely to hit the poor and migrant workers who are returning home. It will be on the lines of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) launched during the first Covid wave last year.
Recently, three states – Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand – and four opposition MPs including NCP chief Sharad Pawar and TMC leader Saugata Roy had urged the Centre to rerun PMGKAY to help the poor.
The Centre has a huge stock of foodgrains to meet the requirement. Currently, wheat and rice stock in the central pool is around 69 million tonnes – nearly three times more than the buffer requirement.
Unlike the last PMGKAY, this time the Centre has not announced distribution of one kilogram of free pulses to nearly 20 crore beneficiary families per month as it doesn’t have enough buffer stock of the key nutrient. Its stock is hovering around 1.5 million tones – lower than the buffer norm of 2 million tonnes.