Many States, cutting across party lines, have asked the Central government to extend the PM-GKAY scheme beyond September 30, 2022. The sixth phase of the scheme began in April 2022 and set to end in September 2022.
What is PM-GKAY scheme?
- PM-GKAY is a food security welfare scheme announced by the Central Government in March 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- It is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19.
- Objective — To feed the poorest citizens of India by providing grain through the Public Distribution System, to all the priority households (ration card holders and those identified by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme).
- Launched in 2000, Antyodaya Anna Yojana is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to provide highly subsidised food to millions of the poorest families.
- Implementing Agency — Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
- Salient features —
- More than 80 crore beneficiaries are provided 5 kg free wheat/rice per person per month.
- This is in addition to the 5 kg food grains already provided to the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
- The NFSA, 2013 legally entitles up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidised food grains under Targeted Public Distribution system.
- It is known as the largest food security programme in the world.
- To alleviate the Covid-19 pandemic induced distress, initially, the scheme was announced for a period of six months only i.e. April-June 2020.
- However, the scheme was extended several times, with its sixth phase ending September 2022.
- By March 2022, the Government had spent approximately Rs. 2.60 Lakh Crore and another Rs. 80,000 Crore were spent over the next 6 months till September 2022 taking the total expenditure under PM-GKAY to nearly 3.40 Lakh Crore.
- Till Phase V (i.e. till March 2022), the Government had allocated about 759 LMT of free foodgrains under the PM-GKAY.
- Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly abated and economic activities are gathering momentum, this PM-GKAY extension has ensured that no poor household goes to bed without food during this time of recovery.