The Union Cabinet on Friday approved giving food grains free under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for one year. This will benefit 81.35 crore population. This means the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) will now be subsumed into the free food grain scheme under NFSA. As on date, the eligible beneficiary have to pay ₹1, ₹2 and ₹3 for coarse grain, wheat and rice, respectively.

The Cabinet also approved the amendment to One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.

Highly subsidised

“A total of ₹2-lakh crore is to be spent on food security for free grains,” Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said in a press conference. The Act provides coverage for nearly two-third of the country’s total population, basis Census 2011 population estimates.

As much as 75 per cent of the rural and 50 per cent of the urban population are entitled to receive highly subsidised foodgrains under two categories of beneficiaries — Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households and Priority Households (PHH).

The Act entitles 35 kg of foodgrains per AAY households per month and 5 kg of foodgrains per PHH persons per month. Now, these eligible persons will not have to pay anything till December 31, 2023, added Goyal.

For ex-servicemen

Meanwhile, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Singh Thakur announced that the Cabinet has also cleared the much-awaited revised OROP scheme for retired armed forces personnel and their families, which will be effective from July 1, 2019.

More than 25 lakh pensioners, including over 4.52 lakh new additions, will now benefit from the Cabinet’s decision which will bring an additional burden of over ₹8,400 crore to the public exchequer. Besides, the government will give arrears from July 2019 to June 2022, which put together, comes to ₹23,638 crore.

Armed forces personnel, who have retired from the services until June 30, 2019 (excluding pre-mature retired from July 1, 2014), will be covered under this revised OROP, said the government in a statement. Pension of past pensioners would be re-fixed on the basis of the average of minimum and maximum pension of defence forces retirees of calendar year 2018 in the same rank with the same length of service. Pension for those drawing above the average shall be protected, the government clarified.

“The benefit would also be extended to family pensioners, including war widows and disabled pensioners,” said the Minister.