The Union government said it would provide free foodgrains to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act, 2013, as per their entitlement, for a year beginning January 2023. It has, however, discontinued the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana launched in April 2020 amid Covid-19.

 

Details

  • The government decided to provide free foodgrains to 81.35 crore people for one year under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) at an estimated cost of Rs 2 lakh crore.
  • It has, however, discontinued the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY).
    • PM-GKAY has been merged with the NFSA. Now, the entire quantity of 5 kg and 35 kg under the NFSA would be available free of cost.
  • The discontinuation of PMGKAY comes at a time when the foodgrains stock has depleted over the months.
  • With this decision, for the first time, India will have a Central food security legislation which gives the poor a ‘right’ to receive 5 kg foodgrains free of cost.
    • Earlier, the poor paid a small price of Rs 3 per kg for rice and Rs 2 per kg for wheat.
  • The decision softens the blow the poor may suffer with the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana being discontinued by the end of the month.

 

Food allocation and estimated bill

  • As per the latest allocation order for December, 13.67 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and 31.72 lakh metric tonnes of rice are required under the NFSA.
  • The monthly requirement of the PMGKAY stood at about 40 lakh metric tonnes (wheat: 7 lakh metric tonnes and rice: 33 lakh metric tonnes).
  • Discontinuing the PMGKAY would, however, saved the government Rs 15,000 crore a month or about Rs 1.8 lakh crore a year.

 

About the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana

  • 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
  • Nodal ministry — Ministry of Finance.
  • 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.
  • It is known as the largest food security programme in the world.

 

About the National Food Security Act

  • The NFSA, 2013 was notified to provide for food and nutritional security, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.
  • It provides a legal right to persons belonging to “eligible households” to receive food grains at subsidised price/central issue prices under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
  • State governments are tasked with identifying Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY – poorest of the poor) and priority households (PHH) beneficiaries within the TPDS-covered population.
  • Every person in the PHH category receives 5 kg of food grains per month at – rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grain at Re 1/kg. Each Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) household gets Rs 35 kg of food grains per month.
  • The Act covers up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population for receiving subsidised food grains (overall 67% of the total population).