In March 2020, the Centre had launched the scheme to provide free foodgrains to over 80 crore beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) to reduce the hardships of people affected during Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly 20 lakh tonnes of grains have been distributed for free so far to eligible beneficiaries under the fifth phase of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).
The additional foodgrains of 5 kilograms per person per month is over and above the normal quota provided under the NFSA at a subsidised rate of Rs.2-3 per kg. Extended several times since, the scheme is now valid till March 2022.
Under the fifth phase – from December 2021 to March 2022 – the food ministry had allocated 163 lakh tonnes foodgrains to all states/UTs for the four-month distribution period.
“Since the distribution of only second month has started recently, the reports available from the states/UTs show a distribution of about 19.76 lakh tonnes foodgrains to the beneficiaries so far,” an official statement said.
The ministry is anticipating that the distribution performance of the fifth phase will also be on the same high level as achieved in the earlier phases. The food department is continuously monitoring the lifting and distribution of foodgrains by all states/UTs on a day-to-day basis, the statement said.
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 re-introduced the scheme for a period of two months of May and June 2021 (Phase-III) and extended it for another five months, July-November 2021 (Phase-IV). The scheme was again extended from December 2021 to March 2022 (Phase-V).
Under the Phases I-V, the food ministry had so far allocated about 759 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to the states/UTs, which is equivalent to about Rs 2.6 lakh crore in food subsidy, the statement said. So far, a cumulative total of about 580 lakh tonnes of foodgrains have been distributed to the beneficiaries.
Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim have been rated as best performing states with regard to distribution of foodgrains under Phase I and II of PMGKAY. Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Mizoram, Delhi and West Bengal have been rated as best performing States with regard to distribution of foodgrains under Phase III and IV.
As many as 12 states/UTs — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, DNH D&D, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura and UP — reported 98-100 per cent Aadhaar-based foodgrain distribution under Phase III and IV of PMGKAY.