Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that Covid-19 pandemic has caused a body blow to the poor of the country and the government came to their rescue by providing over ₹2-lakh-crore worth of free ration to over 80 crore people during the course of pandemic.
Interacting with the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) in Gujarat on Tuesday via video conferencing, the Prime Minister also mentioned that under the current scheme beneficiaries were getting nearly double the ration they received in earlier schemes.
“There is only one objective for this scheme that no one should sleep empty stomach in our country. From the regular quota of ₹2/kg wheat and ₹3/kg rice, each beneficiary is getting additional 5 kg wheat and rice, which is nearly double than before,” said Modi adding that the scheme will continue till Diwali this year.
“This free rations reduces distress for the poor and gives them confidence. He said that the poor should feel that whatever might be the calamity, the country is with him,” he added.
Notably, about 948 lakh tonnes of foodgrains was allocated last year, which is about 50 per cent more than a normal year to ensure food security during Covid-19. About ₹2.84 lakh crore food subsidy incurred during 2020-21.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that after independence, almost every government talked about providing cheap food to the poor. The scope and budget of cheap ration schemes increased year after year, but the effect it should have had remained limited, Modi stated adding that the country's food stocks kept increasing, but starvation and malnutrition did not decrease in that proportion.
Modi lauded Gujarat government for its efforts in ensuring care for migrant labourers and fulfilling the purpose of One Nation One Ration Card Initiative.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani stated that over 3.3 crore eligible beneficiaries from 71 lakh antyodaya families (poor families) in Gujarat had received 25.5 lakh tonnes of foodgrain through 17,000 government-approved ration shops. This was achieved by incurring a subsidy amount of more than ₹5,000 crore.