New Delhi: The Centre has extended the free foodgrain programme ‘PMGKAY’ for six months till September this year to provide relief to poor, Union minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday.
A decision in this regard was taken in the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Food Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted that the government has extended the scheme till September 2022.
The extension of the scheme despite the end of the COVID-19 pandemic shows the Modi government’s sensitivity towards poor, he tweeted.
Under the PMGKAY programme, which is running for the past years, the government will distribute 1,003 lakh tonnes foodgrain at a cost of Rs 3.4 lakh crore to the exchequer.
In March 2020, the Centre had launched the scheme, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), to provide free foodgrains to over 80 crore beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) as part of its efforts to reduce the hardships of people during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Centre provides 5kg of foodgrains per month for free under this scheme.
The additional free grains is over and above the normal quota provided under the NFSA at a highly subsidised rate of Rs 2-3 per kg.
The scheme has been extended several times with the recent one until March 2022.
Initially in 2020-21, the PMGKAY scheme was announced only for a period of three months of April, May and June 2020 (Phase-I).
Later, the government extended the scheme from July to November 2020 (Phase-II).
With the COVID crisis continuing in 2021-22, the Centre in April 2021 had re-introduced the scheme for a period of two months of May and June 2021 (Phase-III) and extended it for another five months from July to November 2021 (Phase-IV).
The scheme was again extended from December 2021 to March 2022 (Phase-V).
Under the Phases I to V, the food ministry had allocated a total of about 759 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to the States/UTs, which is equivalent to about Rs 2.6 lakh crore in food subsidy.