Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana had been extended till Diwali to ensure free ration to 80 crore people amid the pandemic.
Modi was addressing the nation amid a devastating second wave of Covid-19 in the country, which has upended lives and economies since it began.
Over 80 crore people in the country will receive free food grain’s now till Diwali under the scheme, which was launched last year during the Covid-19 induced lockdown. During this pandemic, the government is with the poor. Over 80 crore of our population will get ration till November. Nobody should sleep hungry,” Modi said in his address.
“Last year, when we had to impose lockdown due to COVID-19, then under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, the country planned to give free ration to over 80 crore citizens in eight months. This year as well, due to the second wave, it was planned for May and June,” the prime minister said.
The PMGKAY is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19. It was initially announced for a three month period – April, May and June last year – covering 80 crore ration cardholders. Later it was extended till November 2020.
The Centre announced its decision to restart the PMGKAY in April 2021.
The scheme aimed to deliver an additional 5 kg of free grains (wheat or rice) to each person covered by the National Food Security Act 2013, on top of the 5 kg of subsidised foodgrain already provided under the Public Distribution System (PDS).
The Covid second wave necessitated lockdowns in many states of the country, affecting people’s livelihoods. Even as restrictions begin to slowly ease, the PM’s announcement comes as a relief to crores of households affected due to the pandemic.
The Prime Minister in his address lauded the efforts of the country, taken on multiple fronts, to combat the ‘deadliest pandemic’ in a 100 years.
"During the battle against the pandemic, we have developed medical infrastructure to save lives of our countrymen. In April to May, we have witnessed the shortage of medical oxygen and made many efforts to arrange it in a short time,” he said.